16 offensive tackles to know for Bills, Part 1

16 offensive tackles to know for Bills, Part 1
Posted at 9:01 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 06:45:11-05

The NFL Draft is just one piece of the puzzle for the Buffalo Bills, but with such an importance placed on next season, they’ll need to get their first few picks right. The Bills want the postseason, badly, and making the right moves in late April could be the key to the playoffs.

Each week, 7 ABC will go through and outline some of the players you should know in this year’s draft process. This week, it’s all about the players that protect the quarterback — offensive tackles.

The first look at some offensive tackles the Bills may look at come April for the 2016 NFL Draft:

Taylor Decker, Ohio State
6’7”, 315 lbs.
What he’s all about: One of two big-time tackle prospects out of the Big Ten, Taylor Decker certainly has all the prototypical features a team would want. He’s young, he’s big, he’s long, and has experience against good competition in college. Decker boasts great strength, and really looks to finish in the open field on running plays. In pass blocking, Decker displays patience and a more-than-capable kick-slide to mirror the defender, staying in control of the situation. He is quite tall, so there are times when the leverage game works against him and he has to become a waist bender, which pushes him out of position. Comparatively, Decker also lacks the athleticism that some other offensive tackle prospects have, which could limit his versatility. He is a projected first-round pick for the time being.

How he would fit the Bills: If the Bills want to complete the offensive line in the first round, Decker would be right in the conversation to do so. His best fit with the Bills, due to some of his struggles with athleticism, would likely be as a right tackle.



Jack Conklin, Michigan State
6’6”, 318 lbs.
What he’s all about: The relentless Jack Conklin joins Decker as part of the Big Ten offensive tackle contingent available in this year’s draft. Conklin is a solid run blocker through and through, attacking his assignment at all costs. He’s strong and intelligent, which helps his case as one of the top tackles available according to many. Conklin also plays with good balance when he gets his hands on the defender, not often being pushed off his spot. The trouble for Conklin, though, is when defenders get him moving. He has heavy feet, and speed rushers could spell trouble when he’s pass blocking. He’ll lunge at defenders sometimes, which will also make him a liability on some plays. Not a finished product by any means, Conklin is a first-to-second round type of talent.

How he would fit the Bills: With the kind of importance that the offense puts on running the ball, Conklin would be a natural fit to help out on that front. However, is he a true left tackle in the NFL? Speed rushers line up on both sides, of course, but mostly the faster player will attack from the quarterback’s blind side — over the left tackle. If Cordy Glenn walks out the door, the Bills’ priorities might shift and getting an immediate starter for the line with the 19th overall pick might get the focus. If that’s the case, Conklin would be firmly on the radar.



Willie Beavers, Western Michigan
6’5”, 312 lbs.
What he’s all about: A small-school player, Willie Beavers flashes a ton of talent and potential. Teams will be intrigued by his skill-set because of one main factor: athleticism. He’s quick, fires off the snap, and moves incredibly well for a player his size. In pass blocking, Beavers shows a quick kick-slide and anchors well against some of the tougher competition he’s gone up against. He is not a finished product at this point because he doesn’t always play with balance. That causes him to get caught with his head down, which is usually a predictor of success for the defensive lineman whenever that occurs. A potential-type of player, Beavers  a Day Two to early Day Three selection at this point in time.

How he would fit the Bills: Beavers likely isn’t ready to play right away for the team that drafts him, which could make him intriguing to the Bills. If he were to be available in the third or fourth round, they could take him and work with him to potentially take over at right tackle if neither Seantrel Henderson or Cyrus Kouandjio step up as the starter. At worst, Beavers would be a depth player to develop.



Jerald Hawkins, LSU
6’6”, 305 lbs.
What he’s all about: An early entry by class, Jerald Hawkins will actually turn 23 years old in October. As offensive tackles go, Hawkins is impressive to look at. He’s got the prototypical size, he has the length you look for out of a left tackle, he’s got good feet, and flashes athleticism. However, at this point, Hawkins is still a raw player. He leans a bit too much, will get caught with his head down, and hasn’t mastered the art of anchoring in pass protection just yet. Plus, this past season, defenders were even pushing him back while he was attempting to run block. The athleticism turns him into a project type that may get drafted in Day Two just because of the potential.

How he would fit the Bills: Like Willie Beavers, Hawkins offers some long-term potential if brought along the right way. Unlike Beavers, Hawkins likely isn’t close to being ready for game action unless some big improvement is made over the spring and summer. His athleticism is hard to ignore, but for what the Bills are trying to do in 2016, a Day Two pick of Hawkins doesn’t make a lot of sense.



Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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