Projected Depth Chart:
LT: Cordy Glenn
LG: Cyril Richardson/Chris Williams/Doug Legursky
C: Eric Wood
RG: Kraig Urbik
RT: Cyrus Kouandjio/Erik Pears/Chris Hairston/Seantrel Henderson
Long Shots to Make Roster: J.J. Unga, Mark Asper, Randy Colling, Edawn Coughman, Antoine McClain
Another area the Bills made necessary revamping to this offseason was the offensive line. They signed a potential starter in veteran free agent guard Chris Williams, then selected Cyrus Kouandjio in Round 2, Cyril Richardson in Round 5 and Seantrel Henderson in Round 7.
The Bills have three solid starters up front in left tackle Cordy Glenn, center Eric Wood and right guard Kraig Urbik, but the left guard and right tackle spots should be wide open for competition. That’s where the team’s new additions could factor in immediately.
Doug Legursky was an upgrade when he took over for Colin Brown at left guard five games into last season, but that’s not saying much. A versatile veteran who can also play center, Legursky fights hard on the interior line but would be better suited for a backup role.
Williams might be considered the favorite to win the left guard job after signing a four-year contract this offseason, but Richardson, from Baylor, shouldn't be overlooked.
Williams has the advantage of experience (69 games, 54 starts), but he has performed underwhelmingly in his NFL career. Asked about whether Richardson, a powerful 2013 first-team All-American, could start, Bills director of player personnel Jim Monos responded by saying "we don’t draft guys to be backups," according to a tweet from the Bills’ official Twitter account.
The Bills didn't draft Kouandjio to be a backup either, and he should be considered the favorite to start at right tackle. While Chris Hairston missed the entire 2013 season with an undisclosed medical issue, Erik Pears struggled in both pass protection and run blocking. Kouandjio might have some growing pains in pass protection himself, especially against outside speed rushers, but he is a strong run blocker who can dominate with his size and length.
Pears and Hairston will likely have to fight for their roster spots, too, as seventh-round pick Henderson, out of the University of Miami, has the talent to top both of them on the depth chart.
Henderson, however, will be on the hot seat, too. With a history of marijuana-related issues, including a failed test at this year’s combine, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he has been told by Bills general manager Doug Whaley, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak, that he has “one shot.”
With up to seven players battling for position at two spots on the offensive line, that doesn't leave much room for any other linemen on the roster unless injuries strike. Among the other five blockers on the roster, J.J. Unga—who saw some playing time in place of Urbik late last season—likely has the best chance of keeping his spot for the regular-season team.
As a whole, the Bills have clearly placed emphasis on size and power in building their offensive line. Of the 15 blockers currently on their roster, 11 of them weigh at least 320 pounds.