If you ask the top player on the roster, LeSean McCoy, the Bills offensive line is extremely important to the success of the team. And with all the changes that have been made to the O-line this offseason including two retirements and a trade, the Bills are looking for the next set of players to step into a bigger role. That includes the starting left guard position.
So, the question is, who will have the job at left guard when the season kicks off in 64 days?
One candidate could win one of two camp position battles, also battling for the starting center position. But Ryan Groy has experience as a guard and that versatility makes him someone that can make an impact on the line.
“Competing for center right now, I like it, but the other part of that is once you know center you know the other positions and other assignments,” said Groy. “So, if I’ve got to move to guard I’ll be able to fill the spot easily because I know the call for him because I’m the center.”
Another player that can take the spot is Vladimir Ducasse, a ninth-year NFL veteran. He started the final 12 games of the 2017 regular season at right guard for the Bills and has the experience playing on the left side as well. Throughout the spring, Ducasse was the most frequent first-team starter at the left guard spot, with John Miller re-assuming his right guard role with the starting unit.
Ducasse put up a decent grade last season according to Pro Football Focus, ranking 24th among all NFL guards last season.
And for both Groy and Ducasse, continuity will also help these two in competing for the starting job. Juan Castillo is still around, meaning both players will have an idea of what he’s looking for.
“That helps. You’re not learning completely new techniques with a new system,” said Groy. “You have the same techniques, new plays, new calls and understanding how Juan is going to practice us and run the meeting room all helps.”
Then there is the Bills second pick of the fifth round this year, Wyatt Teller. The defensive lineman turned offensive lineman comes to One Bills Drive from Virginia Tech, and he’s trying to make an early appearance on the Bills roster.
Learning from the veterans in the O-line room like Groy, Russell Bodine, etc., Teller is picking up the knowledge that could make him a hard sell for the starting job.
“[I’m working] at mainly both guards,” said Teller. “I’m trying to compete as well as bring along myself as well as the other guys. Coach has been awesome and we’ve been getting in plenty of work, getting better every day.”
With so much change up front this offseason, it appears that the offensive staff is in favor of leaning toward a veteran as an answer at left guard. Teller would have to grossly outperform Ducasse and Groy, should he be shifted to compete at guard instead of his current battle at center.