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Friday, April 17, 2009
How do the Bills replace Jason Peters?


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Now that the Buffalo Bills have resigned themselves to life without Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, where do they go from here?

If the Bills' offensive line were a landscape, the left side would be a gulch.

They previously released left guard Derrick Dockery. They have a new center, too, in a division that features defenses inspired by Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan and Bill Parcells.

"I'll bet Rex Ryan is salivating," Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson said, referring to the New York Jets head coach. "Not only do the Bills have a new left guard, they have a new left tackle. To completely revamp that left side, there's going to communication errors.

"I would imagine all the AFC East defensive coordinators are happy about it."

The Bills agreed to a trade that will send Peters to the Philadelphia Eagles for three draft choices: the 28th overall selection, a fourth-round pick and an undisclosed selection next year.

The Bills also have their own 11th pick, giving them an opportunity to draft a tackle early. The names that come up most frequently are Alabama's Andre Smith and Mississippi's Michael Oher.

Without some help, Bills quarterback Trent Edwards might want to warm up to the idea of peering from his helmet's earhole as he gets off the turf again and again.

"You get Terrell Owens and have all these weapons," Williamson said, "but if you can't keep Trent Edwards upright, you've got big problems.

"I don't think he's the most instinctive quarterback. I don't know that he feels the rush all that well. Defenses will be bringing it form all angles, and you're going to play against all those 3-4 teams, which are really going to challenge him mentally because you don't know who's coming."

The tackles on Buffalo's roster include Langston Walker, Kirk Chambers, Jonathan Scott, Demetrius Bell and Chris Denman.

Not exactly a Murderer's Row of blindside protectors.

Only Walker, Chambers and Scott have started an NFL game at tackle.

Walker is the lone regular. He was Buffalo's left tackle while Peters boycotted training camp, but Walker was their right tackle for every game after the season opener.

"Walker is a big, stiff right tackle, who's smart," Williamson said. "He's a better run blocker than he is a pass protector, but I certainly don't want him on the left side.

"I don't think he's quick enough out of his stance. I don't think he can handle edge speed. That's what he's going to see moreso than in any other division. That left tackle is going to deal with Joey Porter and whoever New England decides will be their right outside linebacker. And Rex Ryan is going to concoct something for the Jets."

Williamson also gave his take on Bell, a seventh-round draft pick last year out of Northwestern State. The son of Karl Malone is listed at 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds. Bell was inactive for every game last year.

"Bell's a big-time project," Williamson said. "Athletically, he's there. But he had a lot of work to do coming out of college. He's a small-school kid, and asking him to be a starting tackle is a stretch. He was extremely raw. Unless he's improved by leaps and bounds behind the scenes and none of us knows, he's nobody to count on."

In breaking down the trade, Williamson thought the Eagles were clear winners.

"I'm a big fan of Peters," Williamson said. "I think he had a down year last year. He was much better two years ago, but he's still a puppy. That's what people don't realize. He never played the position in college. He's a big tight end. It's all in front of him.

"I think it's a tremendous move for Philly. They're not going to get anybody close to him with that pick and fulfill a need. I look at Philly, and they might have the best offensive line in the league."