It took a while, but the Buffalo Bills on day three of the 2010 NFL draft addressed their offensive line. With the 140th overall pick, Buffalo selected Ed Wang, an offensive tackle out of Virginia Tech, in the fifth round Saturday afternoon.
On top of bringing some talent to what some believe is a thin offensive line on the edges, Wang will become the first Chinese-American player in the National Football League. There have been a handful of players in the professional ranks with roots in Asia -- Hines Ward and Kailee Wong, to name a few – but none have called China their family’s land of origin.
Both of Wang’s parents were Chinese Olympians, his father a high-jumper and his mother participated in the hurdles, so he comes from a good athletic stock. But Wang primarily takes pride in the fact China now has a foothold in American football.
“You know, it’s really important to me,” said Wang shortly after his selection. “It means a lot to me to be able to be the first one to do it. I take a lot of pride in that.”
Wang arrived at Virginia Tech a 250-pound tight end. However, through diligent work in the weight room, the former Hokie packed on 60 pounds of bulk to his 6-4 ½-inch frame and became what his staff believed was the team’s “most consistent blocker.”
Wang started 36 of his 47 career games at Virginia Tech, with the last 27 appearances coming at the left tackle position. In 2009, he earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference second-team honors. He provided the Hokies eight touchdown-resulting blocks/knockdowns while racking up a total of 62 (176 in his career).
A daunting task, Wang contended, was adjusting to pass protection. Also, the move from being a skill-position player to an unsung hero on the line was a bit of a change.
“I think it’s just getting used to playing in the trenches all the time,” he said. “I believe that was probably the hardest thing. And also just learning how to pass protect. As a tight end you don’t really pass protect. You know, I think those two things are probably the hardest.”
“I had a lot of help (in the move) from tight end to tackle,” said Wang. “The coaches were very supportive, and our tackles were also very supportive. They helped me along. At first it was a little difficult, but when I started getting used to it, just getting used to the position, the transition was pretty smooth.”
Indeed it was, and Bills scouts took notice. Buffalo’s Coordinator of College Scouting, Doug Majeski, was particularly impressed.
“He’s been a three-year starter at Virginia Tech,” he said. “He’s got size; he’s got strength. He’s really a good athlete as far as his quickness and body control. He’s gotten better each year and we hope he still continues to improve for us. He plays well on his feet and he can run. He’s physical and he’s quick.”
Wang’s speed is perhaps one of his greater assets. He did not attend the NFL Combine in February, but having clocked in with a 4.97-second showing in the 40-yard dash, he would have placed third among all offensive linemen who did participate.
Having the athleticism of a tight end packed in an offensive tackle’s body, Wang anticipates he’ll have very little trouble handling speedy opponents.
“I definitely feel comfortable because I feel I am pretty athletic,” he said. “I feel like I can improve upon everything. I feel like I have a lot of room to grow in my game. That’s what I’m really excited about, getting there, having them develop me more, just getting ready to go.”
And developing him is exactly what the Bills intend to do. Majeski contends he will remain at left tackle, and because of his consistency at the collegiate level, he seems a perfect fit in that role.
“He’s rarely beat. When you watch him, he’s productive,” Majeski said. “Are there parts of his game that you wish were a little better? Yes. But he’s never out of position. You don’t see mental mistakes from the kid. Everything about his play is good, but there is another level that he can take and another step he can take.”
“I’m excited. You know, I’m just really excited,” Wang concluded. “I’m happy I got the opportunity to come to the Bills.”