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90 Buffalo Bills players in 90 days: DT Poona Ford

The big fella adds much-needed girth and insurance to the interior defensive line

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Buffalo Bills lost their most important defensive lineman to injury at a terribly inopportune time. After that player was injured, the team could do little to replace him. As a result, they needed to piece together the defensive line rotation in such a way that multiple players were playing out of position, which led to bigger issues with the defense than had happened all season.

If you thought I was talking about Von Miller at first, guess again — I was actually talking about defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, whose spot as the “one-tech” defensive lineman has often been the unsung hero of the Bills’ defense. With Jones missing against the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs, the team couldn’t stop the run or rush the passer, and the Bengals just blew the doors off of our Bills in a 27-10 romp that wasn’t actually as close as the score would suggest.

In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss a newcomer whose primary function on defense is to ensure that the total collapse of the defensive front thanks to a missing one-tech doesn’t happen. He’s a young, tough anchor who fits this defense perfectly.

Name: Poona Ford

Number: 98

Position: DT

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 310 pounds

Age: 27 (28 on 11/19/2023)

Experience/Draft: 6; signed with the Seattle Seahawks following the 2018 NFL Draft

College: Texas

Acquired: Signed with Buffalo on 5/2/2023

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Ford signed a one-year contract with Buffalo. That deal is worth a total of $2.25 million, and $1.5 million of that total is guaranteed. Those numbers also represent his salary cap hit if he makes the roster and the dead-cap figure Buffalo will carry if he’s released, respectively.

2022 Recap: Ford played in every one of Seattle’s games, including their one playoff contest, last season. In the regular season, he started 16 games and appeared on 642 defensive snaps (56% of Seahawks’ total). He had 35 tackles, including six tackles for loss, and seven quarterback hits. He set a career-high in sacks with three, and another career-high in pass knockdowns with two. He didn’t register any statistics in Seattle’s 41-23 playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He played 34 snaps in that game, just over 50% of the team’s total.

Positional outlook: Ford is one of nine defensive tackles vying for a spot on the roster, joining Eli Ankou, Tim Settle, Cortez Broughton, Ed Oliver, DaQuan Jones, Jordan Phillips, Kendal Vickers, and DJ Dale. Ankou and Jones are the other players who serve primarily as “one-tech” defensive tackles like Ford.

2023 Offseason: Ford is healthy and participating in offseason work to date.

2023 Season outlook: Ford’s addition was a big one, literally and figuratively, to the Bills’ defensive line. While he may not actually be the biggest defensive lineman, as his “smaller” stature was one of the reasons he went undrafted, it undoubtedly gives him some advantages at his position. As a one-tech, his job is to anchor his position and eat blocks. In a game where the low man wins, having someone as functionally strong as Ford is while also being a good four to six inches shorter than most other offensive linemen can be an advantage.

Ford should slot right in as the primary backup to DaQuan Jones, giving Buffalo a fantastic insurance policy in the event that the big man can’t go for a game. The question is less whether Ford makes the roster, in my opinion, and more who does Ford push off of it. If we consider Ford, Jones, and Ed Oliver safe, that means that the team is either rolling with five defensive tackles by keeping both Jordan Phillips and Tim Settle, or they’re releasing one of them. I think the team is going to keep four DTs, so the Bills will either roll the dice on Phillips staying healthy or hope for a more productive year out of Settle after a disappointing first campaign with the team. In any case, Ford is a great signing for Buffalo, as he fits exactly what they were lacking last year when Jones was injured in the playoffs against the Bengals. His addition gives the Bills yet another quality player along the interior defensive line.