(WKBW) - With only nine days ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills have to decide on one position to address in the first round, while several other needs remain.
One of those spots is a right tackle, a position the Bills reportedly tried to address with the high-priced free agent Ricky Wagner, a player that ended up signing with the Detroit Lions. If the Bills do not take a right tackle at 10th overall, that pushes it into a prime target on Day Two of the draft.
Draft analysts all over the country are referring to this year’s offensive line class as one of the least deep in terms of potential starters, which could push the Bills to take one at some point in the second or third round.
So, who are some names to know if the Bills do end up passing on a right tackle in the first round? Five of my favorites in this year’s class past Utah’s Garrett Bolles, Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk, and Alabama’s Cam Robinson:
(Note: These are my favorite second-tier right tackle prospects with the Bills in mind… not who I have ranked in order after the top two.)
1) Dion Dawkins, Temple
- Thought of by most to be a better guard prospect than a tackle, I was impressed by how fluid an athlete Dion Dawkins is as a starter at left tackle for Temple. Plus, his size (6-foot-4, 314-pounds) and arm length (35-inches) isn’t necessarily indicative of a prospect that’s seen only as a guard. While I don’t think teams should saddle him up as a left tackle to build with, I think he can play right tackle in the NFL — with the ability to be an above-average starter. Despite his bulky frame, Dawkins moves pretty well and can get out of his stance in a hurry. He has violent hands, and in run blocking, Dawkins just wants to bury people. He also sinks his weight down pretty efficiently against a bull rush, which will be a big part of playing at right tackle. His balance can be compromised every once in a while, but there’s a lot more to like than there isn’t. Plus, the Bills offensive line (due to age and expiring contracts) is likely to change in the next year or two. Having Dawkins, who can also play guard, gives them the flexibility to do just about anything they want.
2) Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
- Much for the same reasons that Dawkins is a preferable option, Taylor Moton brings you the same versatility. Moton (6-foot-5, 319-pounds) played at right tackle this past year, and you could see him doing that or sliding inside to guard. Once Moton latches on to the defender, odds are that player isn’t getting away. He drives defenders backward and likes to finish off his blocks. He plays with good balance and can work against the wide moves of a pass rusher smoothly. He doesn’t quite bring as much of an ability to move quickly as Dawkins does, but he still gets the job done in pass protection. He might struggle with pure speed rushers when playing at offensive tackle, and he can get a little grabby sometimes, but all in all, Moton would be a solid target in the second round if the Bills were looking to fill the void at right tackle.
3) Antonio Garcia, Troy
- Different than both Dawkins and Moton, Antonio Garcia (6-foot-6, 302-pounds) is projected as an offensive tackle in the NFL because of how athletic he is and how well he moves. He’s not built like most offensive tackles, looking a lot leaner than your average prospect at the position. His body type kind of reminds me of Jason Spriggs when he entered the draft out of Indiana. You see the natural ability in how easily he can slide back and mirror the pass rusher when protecting the passer, and how well he moves to get to his defender and try to drive him back in run blocking. Now, there is some cause for concern because you can see him relying on his upper body strength solely sometimes, which sacrifices his balance, and bigger defensive linemen can take advantage of that. If he can get stronger and finds an offensive line coach that believes in him to develop him, he could turn into one of the better ones from this class.
4) Jermaine Eluemunor, Texas A&M
- Unlike the first three, Jermaine Eluemunor is even more of a projection pick. Starting most of the last season at right tackle, Eluemunor moved much better than his natural size would indicate. At 6-foot-4, 332-pounds, I think he could be a solid option in the third round for the Bills — and I actually think he has the ability to contribute relatively early at right tackle. He needs some work in pass protection, but I think he can be a solid run blocker for a team pretty early on. He also has that versatility to move inside to guard, having experience playing on the inside as well, so he would also bring the Bills options — just in a less polished package than the first three.
5) Will Holden, Vanderbilt
- This was a tossup between Will Holden and Bucknell’s Julie’n Davenport, but despite Davenport’s size (6-foot-7, 318-pounds) and ridiculous 36-and-a-half inch long arms, Davenport doesn’t seem anywhere close to being able to contribute this season for a team. That’s why Holden gets the nod, although his play was a little uninspiring based on his inability to move as well as some of the other prospects. Still, Holden showed good ability in blocking downhill in the run game, which will be vital to what the Bills are trying to do. He plays with good leverage and is stout even with bigger defenders at the line of scrimmage. His lack of athleticism makes him probably a right tackle or an interior player, but that will suit the Bills just fine given what their needs are now and what they will become past this year.
Other names to know: Roderick Johnson - Florida State, Julie’n Davenport - Bucknell, Zach Banner - USC, Adam Bisnowaty - Pittsburgh, David Sharpe - Florida