Cordy Glenn: backup Buffalo Bills offensive tackle?
That's an idea broached by Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, in what essentially amounts to an article propping up Seantrel Henderson as a potential left tackle option for the Bills in 2015. You can read Carucci's article here, which you are strongly encouraged to do before proceeding with this post.
Essentially, the argument Carucci is making is this: the Bills have been impressed with their second-year tackles (Henderson and Cyrus Kouandjio) enough that it's not out of the realm of possibility that Glenn ends up as the top reserve there if things break just right this summer. Let's dive into the pertinent details and flesh them out a little bit.
In the estimation of the Bills’ previous head coach, Doug Marrone, Henderson consistently performed the best of all of the team’s offensive linemen last season.
There is ample evidence - both of the observational and statistical variety - to make this assertion seem patently absurd, unless Marrone was grading on a (gigantic) curve. For starters, Pro Football Focus data: it's certainly not the end-all, be-all of player evaluation, but when you see a discrepancy this big, it can't just be ignored.
But, okay, let's accept that at face value - that Marrone thought Henderson was the Bills' best offensive lineman last season - and proceed. Marrone isn't with the organization anymore, anyway.
Still, it’s worth noting that Rex Ryan and the rest of the Bills’ new coaching staff are strongly considering an idea that Marrone had: moving Henderson from right tackle, where he started all 16 games... to the left side.
That is an interesting report when you remove Marrone's opinion on the matter. For as frequently as Marrone's background with the offensive line is mentioned in pieces like this, his lines in Buffalo regressed significantly from 2012 to 2013, and from 2013 to 2014. (Perhaps his player evaluation had something to do with that.) But if Rex Ryan, Greg Roman, and Aaron Kromer are saying it? It carries a little more weight, because it's pertinent to the team as it exists today.
In a vacuum, the idea makes sense, to a degree. Henderson is certainly athletic enough to handle it. He is far closer to the prototype for a pro offensive tackle than Glenn, who in three-plus years has not been able to shake the "He's a guard!" rhetoric despite stretches of strong play on the blind side. And there is evidence from last summer - when Henderson earned a starting job based on his play at left tackle, while Glenn missed camp time due to illness - that Henderson might be more comfortable on the left side, despite having played basically his entire college and pro career on the right.
If we're talking about performance, though? Unless something has changed drastically for both Glenn and Henderson through the offseason, and we just haven't seen it with our own eyes yet, there's no contest between the two players based on even the 2014 season, let alone taking into account what Glenn has done throughout his three years of experience.
... while Kouandjio has impressed coaches with his first-unit practice reps at right tackle.
(Notice how Marrone's opinion on Kouandjio - he kept the 2014 second-round pick on the inactive list for the overwhelming majority of his rookie season - is absent here.)
This is good news for Kouandjio, who was so bad during his rookie-season training camp that he never even came close to pushing for a starting job despite his lofty draft status. There have been published reports about Kouandjio being in much better shape this year, and working with noted line coach LeCharles Bentley this offseason, among other tidbits making sure we don't forget about him. Carucci's report of a favorable impression on the new coaching staff is not the first time we've heard that, either.
So, well done, Cyrus. You're doing well with your opportunities in May. Keep it rolling into July and August.
If Henderson does end up starting at left tackle, Glenn will probably either become the starter at right tackle or, if Kouandjio wins the job on the right side, serve as a backup for both spots.
If the Bills hand Henderson the left tackle job, based on... something... and if Glenn then loses out on the right tackle job to a guy who hasn't played a down in the NFL yet, based on... an incredibly surprising summer from Kouandjio, a terrible one from Glenn, and a massive leap of faith from Buffalo's coaches, I guess?... then Glenn will back both of those guys up? And no mention of his sliding inside to guard in the (unlikely) event all of that happens?
How is anyone that has watched the team play in the last three years supposed to buy into that logic?
Yet the idea exists, and has been circulated by more than just the highly reputable Carucci. (If any of this reads as a takedown of Carucci, please know that that is not my intention; I'm just struggling to wrap my mind around the idea that Glenn isn't viewed as the best tackle on the roster, and that he might not play there at all; Carucci is caught in the crossfire. Sorry, Mr. Carucci.) The Bills have made it known early and often this offseason that they're opening up all five line spots to competition, and that is a development significant enough to crack open the moving-Glenn dialogue on its own. Add in the notion that Glenn might be at his best at guard, which is not at all without merit, and the idea becomes even more intriguing.
Glenn regressed in 2014, there's no doubt about it - especially as a run blocker, where the team as a whole struggled mightily - but his missing training camp may have played into that. Bills strength coach Eric Ciano went out of his way to note earlier this spring that Glenn is in excellent shape. Glenn is also in a contract year; he'll be a free agent next March. The Bills have better players to re-sign before they arrive at Glenn's name on their list - Marcell Dareus and potentially Nigel Bradham, specifically - and any discussions about Glenn making a position switch could drive down his perceived value.
But let's forget about 2016 and beyond, and focus on 2015, and the idea that Glenn might end up being the third-best tackle that the Bills employ. I feel like I'm being force-fed crazy pills whenever the thought is presented to me. Are there any Bills fans out there that believe any of this will actually come to pass?