The Bills have lost our L Guard Richie Incognito and our long time starting Center Eric Wood, who were both well above average players. They will be hard to replace. At best, Vlad Ducasse and John Miller are average players. The same could be said for Russell Bodine, a center, and Marshall Newhouse, a tackle, who we signed as free agents. The entire offensive line needs to be retooled IMO. Ryan Groh deserves a shot at L guard or center. He played very well in 2016 filling in at Center for the injured Eric Wood. The good new is there are a lot of good guard and center prospects. In fact, I have 3 guards who I think could go in the 1st round and a guard may go as high as top 10. Here is my evaluation of guards and tackles for the Bills in the 2018 NFL Draft!
1)Quentin Nelson, Notre Dame, 6’5″, 329lbs. 35 reps. 7.65 3 cone, 4.62 short shuttle. Nelson is a better guard prospect than Zach Martin out of N.D., and Martin made the pro bowl his rookie year. Quarterbacks aside, Nelson is on literally everyones list of top 5 players in this draft. He is an instant plug and play L guard with pro bowl potential. He is a road grader for the run and is a rock in pass protection. He is strong as a bull and plays like one. He will be a top 10 pick, which is almost unheard of for a guard. I think the guard position is getting some new found love. Guards were getting up to 11 million a year in this year’s free agent market.
2)Isaiah Wynn, Georgia, 6’3″ 312. Wynn had an outstanding career at Georgia playing both guard and tackle. He was great at L tackle in 2017 and was a main cog in Georgia’s offense all the way to the Championship Game. He will be a great guard in the NFL. He is strong, always gets leverage, can pull and he is almost impossible to get by rushing the passer. His outstanding ability to shadow tackles was show cased in Senior Bowl work outs. None of this years top lineman could beat him in the shadow drill. He could be a good tackle but I see him as a great guard. He will go in the first round.
3)Will Hernandez, UTEP, 6’21/2″, 327 lbs. This guys physique reminds me of the The Hulk. He plays like the Hulk also. He is big, strong as an ox (37reps), and plenty fast (5.14 40). He needs some work on his pass protection but he has all the tools to be a great NFL guard. I see him as late first or early 2nd round. He is from a small school but he looks NFL ready to me.
4)Braden Smith, Auburn, 6’6″, 315 lbs., 5.21 40, 35 reps. A taller and leaner tackle than the first three prospects, but he is also brutishly strong. Was very good at Auburn throughout his career. He will start his first year in the league. Probably a 2nd round selection.
5)James Daniels, Iowa, 6’31/2″, 295 lbs. 7.29 3 cone, 4.4 short shuttle. Did a great job at Iowa playing Center. He has great technique. He is strong enough (21 reps) but he wins with movement and technique. He is always in the right spot and executes his blocks. A really good pulling center. He is a similar center to Eric Woods.
5)Frank Ragnow 6’5″, 312 lbs., Arkansas, 26 reps. A big, strong, skilled center. Can also play guard. Will play his first year. A day 2 selection.
7)Billy Price, Ohio St., 6’4″, 305. 4 year starter at Ohio St. at guard and center. He was outstanding and improved every year. He is a ferocious blocker. Has a lot of big game experience. Had surgery on a torn pectoral muscle suffered doing the reps at the combine. Should be able to play this year. I probably have him as the best center prospect without the pec injury. A 2nd day selection. May slip some due to the injury and surgery.
8)Austin Corbett, Nevada, 6’41/2″, 306 lbs., 331/8″ arms. Played L tackle for Nevada in 2017 but has also played guard and center. Versatile. Fast (5.15 40) enough and strong with 19 reps. Will get stronger and better in an NFL program. An early day 3 choice IMO.
9)Martinas Rankin, Miss. St., 6’5″, 312 lbs. 24 reps. Some see him at tackle but I think he is better inside. He played L tackle in 2017 but played both guard and center at Mississippi St. in previous years. Like Corbett he is very versatile. Someone to think about in the later rounds. I thought he got overpowered at times.
10)Wyatt Teller, Va. Tech., 6’4″, 315 lbs., 5.24 40, 23 reps, 7.45 3 cone. He was very good at Virginia Tech this year. I watched several of their games this year as Tremaine Edmunds was someone I had to watch, but Teller was the guy I watched when the offense was on the field. He is tough and a solid blocker. He can pull and he moves people. A solid L guard prospect maybe in round 4-5.
These are my top 10 guards and centers. These are the ones I would use our early round picks on. Here is a list of good prospects for the later round. I think they all could be developed and stick on a 53 man roster.
1)Mason Cole, Michigan, 6’5″, 305 lbs. 5.23 40, 23 reps. Center prospect.
2)Coleman Shelton, Wash., 6’3″, 292 lbs., 5.24 40. Center
3)Brad Bozeman, Alabama, 6’5″, 320 lbs. 5.45 40, 27 reps. Center. Alabama’s center the past two years and he has held his own in the biggest college games. A little slow, otherwise he is in my top 10.
4)Scott Qussenberry, UCLA, 6″4″ 310 lbs. 5.09 40. 25 reps. One of the faster guard prospects. I watched UCLA several times because of Josh Rosen and Qussenberry always looked solid at guard.
5)Colby Gossett, Appalacian St., 6’5″, 311 lbs, 5.20 40, 32 reps. Big and strong. He might be this years Ali Marpet, small school guard who starts in the NFL early in his career. He has all the tools.
6)Skyler Phillips, Idaho, 6’3″, 318. 5.1 40. Was great against weaker competition. Can he be as good at the next level? Worth a late round pick IMO. Could be priority free agent.
7)Maea Teuhema, 6’5″. 315 lbs., S.E. Louisiana, Suspended at LSU along with his brother but the LSU coaches have nothing but good things to say about them both. He could be a late round diamond in the rough. Was dominating at his level. He is a guard.
8)Brian Allen, Mich St., 6’2″, 305 lbs., 5.34 40, 27 reps. A little undersized and not the athlete that some of the others are, but he plays with a hard nosed attitude and is a sturdy center.
9)Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama, 6’4″, 303 los. Caught my attention early in the year and then was injured. I think he could play in the league. He is a guard but has center experience, like a lot of these interior lineman who can play both guard and center. I watch all the Alabama games, if I miss them on Saturday, the SEC network replays the Alabama games during the week. Alabama the past 5 years has had the best recruiting classes and they coach them up properly there and they are some of the best NFL prospects.
Bills Draft Strategy: We need to rebuild this offensive line. I would use 2 of our 9 picks on offensive lineman. I use one of our day 2 picks and get an offensive lineman. I would use one of the 2nd round picks (53 or 56) and get one of my top 10 guards or centers-whichever the best one left at that point. Yeah, I know the old saw “you can always get a guard in the 5th round”. Your aren’t getting Quenton Nelson, Isaiah Wynn or Will Hernandez in the 5th round, they are all worthy of the 1st round. The top centers, Daniels/Ragnow/Price will be gone by the end of the 2nd round (Price may slip into the 3rd round due to his injury). If we want a quality line then we have to use some top picks. Getting Dion Dawkins in the 2nd round last year was as big for the Bills as getting Tre White in the first round. Then I would use our 5th or 6th round pick to get another offensive lineman, either from the above list or one of the tackles who maybe could kick inside to guard.
Heads up for next year:Wisconsin is known for producing offensive lineman (think Ryan Groh). Their entire line returns next year and should be outstanding. Watch Michael Dieter, who can play anywhere on the o-line and Beau Benzschanel, a guard. It would be great to see Clemson play Wisconsin next year. A great o-line against a great d-line, hey, it might happen in the playoffs or a bowl. Another player to watch next year is Martez Ivey at Florida. He is an absolute road grader and if he cleans up his pass blocking, he will be really good next year. Ivey is a tackle/guard combo.
This post completes my evaluation of offensive players. My next post will be on Cornerbacks. I have notes on 61 cornerbacks I saw play this past year that I thought showed NFL potential. The top end is not as good as past years, but the pool of talent is really deep. Same at safety. The speed of this year’s defensive backs is unbelievably fast compared to prior years.