Earlier this week from the NFL owners' meetings in Arizona, Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan spoke with Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News about the team's situation along the offensive line. If you haven't read it yet, you are encouraged to do so; there is plenty to chew on.
Let's take a few minutes to flesh out some of the more intriguing parts of that article, shall we?
"We’re very confident that, with the guys we have on campus now, with Chris Williams coming back, Cyril Richardson, Incognito, Kraig Urbik, and then if we add one or two in the draft, we’ll have some very good competition and hopefully someone will rise to the job and take the job."
That's a Whaley quote, and it sets the baseline for the conversation at guard: those four guys (Williams, Richardson, Richie Incognito, and Urbik, in no particular order) are the main competitors, and more may be added - though not necessarily anyone that would obviously slot in ahead of those guys, especially right away.
Ryan, however, may have a specific role in mind for Urbik already, given this quote:
"We’ve got to get the best combination of five out there and in an ideal world for me, we’d have Urbik as a sixth man."
That obviously doesn't preclude Urbik from competing for a starting job. It also might mean that Urbik has better job security than the rest of the four incumbent candidates given that the coach likes him as a reserve - and that's especially true given that he just took a pay cut.
The guard recap, then: four competitors, plus maybe one or two more, with Urbik's sixth man versatility giving him better job security than the rest, but not guaranteeing him anything more than perhaps a roster spot. Fun.
What about tackle, then? Again, from Ryan (bold emphasis is mine):
When coach Rex Ryan looks at the Bills’ offensive line, he draws confidence from "two good young tackles with phenomenal ability" in Cordy Glenn on the left side and Seantrel Henderson on the right...
Okay, so the Bills feel pretty good about Glenn and Henderson. That's nice... if perhaps a touch misguided in Henderson's case. Especially if a spitballing Ryan follows through with either of these ideas:
"Would it make sense to have Henderson at left tackle and Cordy Glenn at right tackle? That’s a possibility. We’ve got to get the best combination of five out there..."
... and said moving Glenn to left guard and Henderson, who had a strong rookie season in 2014, to left tackle was a "possibility." Incognito would likely take the No. 1 job at right guard...
("Strong rookie season in 2014"? Henderson? ... no. He clearly has talent and upside... but no.)
For the time being, let's chalk these ideas up to a "leave no stone unturned" mentality on Ryan's behalf. Under no circumstances should the team be considering moving their worst-performing offensive lineman from last year (that's still on the roster, at any rate) to its most important position. I'm now coming to grips with the notion that the Glenn-to-guard rhetoric will never die, and that's fine, but if you're mulling that move with Henderson as the left tackle replacement, your priorities are completely backwards.
But clearly, the Bills are considering every possible scenario up front now that they've missed out on acquiring both Bryan Bulaga and Jahri Evans this spring - and that's probably a good thing. Indeed, it seems that the only Bills offensive lineman who can claim close to 100 percent certainty over where he'll be lining up next season is center Eric Wood.