Camp Countdown

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Camp Countdown: No. 10 - Who will be the starting right tackle?

Rookie Cody Ford will be among the top contenders for the starting right tackle spot.
Rookie Cody Ford will be among the top contenders for the starting right tackle spot.

The Buffalo Bills will have a new starting right tackle in 2019. The Bills decided not to re-sign Jordan Mills this offseason and he’s now playing in Miami. Mills started every game for Buffalo last season but the front office made a point to seek upgrades.

Cody Ford

The Bills traded up to select the offensive lineman out of Oklahoma with the No. 38 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Ford is a power blocker who can quickly move defensive linemen out of position with quick feet that allows him to mirror edge rushers. Ford is long enough to deal with speed rushers but still struggles with them more than pure power rushers.

Ford started 14 games for the Sooners last season at tackle and has spent time at left guard. Ford ranked fourth in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking efficiency metric and was successful on run-blocking plays 91.1 percent of the time.

Ford lacks the prototypical arm length for NFL offensive tackles but more than makes up with it with his physicality and athleticism.

He spent a good deal of spring practices as the starting right tackle with the first unit, especially when Ty Nskehe was sidelined by an undisclosed injury during the latter portion of OTAs and minicamp.

“I think it shows they have a lot of trust in me,” Ford said. “I really want to build from what I’ve shown so far. I’m very grateful for the opportunities they game me at this point and I definitely want to take advantage of it as much as I can.”

The job has not been given to the second-round pick and he’ll have to show he can consistently outplay Nsekhe, who wants to earn a starting spot after an unconventional beginning to his NFL career featuring stints in the Arena League and CFL.

Ty Nsekhe

The Bills signed Nsekhe away from Washington this offseason who now has a chance to compete for his first starting job at age 33. But Nsekhe’s age shouldn’t be an indication of a player in decline at all. Backing up the likes of Trent Williams and Morgan Moses in Washington, Nsekhe proved he was capable and excelled when pressed into action.

Nsekhe filled in at left tackle multiple times last season allowing zero sacks and just five hurries in 195 snaps. Lining up against Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney in Week 11 last season, Nsekhe showed how strong he can be.

“Ty is a guy who has persevered and wasn’t this big draft pick or anything. He’s played well,” Beane said. “He’s played on several teams. What I saw with him when you turn the tape on is a guy who played both tackles and both guards as well. He has position flex. He’s a big man to get around and he can move. He’s got pretty good feet. I like the edge. You see a little bit of nasty to him. That’s what was attractive with his game.”

Nsekhe is a massive 6-8, 330 pound lineman who will be a versatile addition as a starter or a backup.

The veteran saw a good number of reps with the first unit at right tackle when he was healthy during OTAs.

“When I got the call saying that Buffalo was willing to pay for my services that was an amazing feeling. I had to sit down,” Nsekhe said. “It was a little overwhelming because it’s been a long road and a lot of work. A lot of sweat equity went into this dream.”

LaAdrian Waddle

The Bills signed Waddle to a one-year deal this offseason. A six-year veteran, he’s been a spot starter at offensive tackle for the New England Patriots for the past four seasons, making seven starts the past two.

Waddle rose from an undrafted rookie to a three-year starter with the Detroit Lions from 2013-15, making 24 starts.

Throughout the spring Nsekhe and Ford earned the most work with the first-team unit at right tackle while Waddle rotated at both tackle spots with the second unit. A strong camp by Waddle could change the dynamics of the competition.

As the Bills continue 2019 OTAs, check out photos of each of the 91 players on the team.

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