Bills' weakness: Offensive tackle
We examined each AFC East team's "weak spot" based on its 2008 performance. In this post, we explore the Buffalo Bills' offensive tackle position.
|AP Photo/David Duprey|
|Trent Edwards will continue to take a pounding if the Bills don't improve at the tackle position.|
The Bills signed wide receiver Terrell Owens and already have speedster Lee Evans in the fold. But if they cannot protect the edge, this duo's playmaking abilities will be for naught. If the Bills cannot protect the edge, quarterback Trent Edwards will be facing constant pounding.
Every team that Buffalo faces in its division runs a 3-4 defense. That means that the Bills' offensive tackles will often be protecting against agile outside linebackers who bring great speed to the table. That is a big problem for Buffalo's current group of offensive tackles that is now without two-time Pro Bowl selection Jason Peters, who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in April.
Buffalo currently has a whopping nine offensive tackles listed on its roster, but only one of them, Langston Walker, has my confidence to get the job done. And at that, Walker is just a massive man with very average feet who struggles against speed in general. Right now, Walker is penciled in as the starting left tackle, but for my money, he is a right tackle every day of the week -- and twice on Sundays and Mondays.
Kirk Chambers has some starting experience at various line positions, but he is a marginal athlete on a good day and has gotten by with grit, technique and intelligence, which he has in abundance. To me, he is a No. 3 tackle at best, though, and far from starting material. Both speed and power rushers can give him fits.
Brad Butler is not a bad football player. He has tackle size, but his skill-set is better suited inside. Butler and Chambers could be fine at right tackle, but only for a very short time. These two are in no way long-term answers to this problem. Both players have peaked and no longer offer upside.
The Bills used a high draft pick on Andy Levitre, who I consider a fine overall line prospect -- but only on the interior. While Levitre was a tackle at Oregon State, he lacks the required dimensions for that spot at this level. Asking him to handle the edge would be a mistake.
The wild card of the current group is Demetrius Bell. He's entering his second season and was used primarily as a practice player in 2008. While he has a good set of tools to work with, there is little to evaluate him on to this point of his young career. Coming out of Northwestern State-Louisiana, Bell was a very raw technician who had a lot to learn about the position. That may have changed over the past calendar year, but either way, he remains a huge risk as a starter against the defensive schemes that mad scientists like Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick will throw at him.
Buffalo has rebuilt its offensive line. For numerous reasons, Peters had a very down 2008 season by his standards, but I still believe that Philadelphia (Andy Reid knows a thing or two about offensive linemen) got the better of that deal. Peters might have forced the Bills' hand, but any way you spin it, their offensive tackles are an area of major concern. Buffalo might have the worst offensive tackles in the NFL.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.