(WGR 550) -- To run and stop the run. That has been the emphasis from Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone in their approach to the offseason and the areas they would like to get better in.
They addressed the latter of those two through free agency and are now faced with the task of making it so that Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller have as easy of a time as possible when they get the ball on a handoff. To some, taking a tackle in the first round could be just the thing that helps the offense advance from their average levels in 2013.
Will attempting to solidify the line take precedence over all when the draft festivities begin on May 8? Let’s examine:
What they have Starters: Cordy Glenn, Erik Pears Reserves: Chris Hairston, Edawn Coughman, Jamaal Johnson-Webb
What they need
- With Cordy Glenn turning into a very good starter at left tackle, the Bills seemingly have little to worry about for the next two seasons. Unless Glenn regresses or they find a player in the draft that they feel could be a longterm option at left tackle, it’s likely that the former second-round pick will continue protecting EJ Manuel’s blind side.
The problem exists with starting right tackle Erik Pears. Heading into training camp in 2013, Pears looked like he was the odd man out due to the presence of Chris Hairston on the roster. Hairston, however, missed all of training camp and landed on the Reserve/Non-football Injury list which claimed the rest of his season.
Pears was able to survive another year and, with no other starting options present, was the unquestioned starter at right tackle. Through the season he had his moments but largely struggled during the 16-game season, signaling that a change could be in the plans.
Last year's starter was not brought in by the Whaley-Marrone regime, and doesn't seem to be the typical fit of an offensive lineman that the head coach looks for. Marrone has stated a few times since coming to Buffalo that he has a desire to get bigger all along the offensive line.
A suitable replacement will be necessary for Pears, and if Hairston isn’t available this upcoming season, the Bills will also need additional depth for the position beyond Glenn and their eventual draft pick. That makes finding a tackle a rather large priority for the team, and that could dictate some of their early draft plans.
How will they do it?
- If the Bills stay at ninth overall, the overwhelming speculation is that they’ll use their first-round pick to find themselves a starting right tackle. If Jake Matthews is still available when the Bills logo pops up and they’re on the clock, the team would have a hard time passing up on someone with his type of pedigree and experience at a high level. If the top two tackles are gone, the Bills could select Michigan’s Taylor Lewan at ninth overall, or they may elect to wait for one of their Day Two selections to find their new starting right tackle. Regardless of when they address the position, the Bills could still elect to draft another offensive tackle late on Day Three to develop in addition to the earlier selection. At the very least, they’ll sign an undrafted free agent to compete for a roster spot.
Players connected to the Bills (will be updated)
Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (Pre-Draft Visit)
Charles Siddoway, Mississippi State (Pre-Draft Visit)