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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Five possible replacements for Darryl Williams in the NFL Draft

Written By Greg Boucher

Given this year’s depth of quality tackles currently available on the market and the importance placed on keeping franchise QB Josh Allen upright, resigning free agent RT Darryl Williams should be a priority this off-season. Though bringing back LB Matt Milano would be beneficial the fact is quality offensive lineman are a premium in this league. I for one believe the two parties will find some common ground and come to terms on a sensible deal but if one cannot be made, Bills fans should not be completely devastated by the loss. Although many of the top prospects project to be off the board when Beane will get his turn to pick, there are still some quality starting caliber players he could target in the early rounds of this year’s draft to fill the vacated position.

Rashawn Slater Northwestern 6’4-310lbs

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Outside of Oregon’s Penei Sewell who is a generational type of talent, Slater is probably the most technically sound offensive tackle in this year’s class. While the other tackles in this draft may be better fits on the inside, Slater is one of the few who would up well as a tackle in the NFL and could be a day one starter for the Bills if they find him on the board at 30. He is a phenomenal athlete for the position and holds up extremely well versus speed as evidenced by his 2019 performance against Ohio States Chase Young. Slater did what no other lineman was able to do in that game, he absolutely dominated the future defensive rookie of the year, keeping Young from making any remotely meaningful play. In pass protection Slater is a technician, his base is remains balanced, his punch is always on target and he never appears to be out of position or overwhelmed by movement and pressure. He has the football acumen to understand blitz schemes and what his responsibility is, which is vital for a young blocker transitioning to the NFL. In the run game Slater utilizes his athleticism to reach and cut off defenders and seal them off from the play, he works up to the second level extremely well and with his level of agility he is able to square up and lock onto linebackers and defensive backs; removing them from the play. If Slater has any deficiencies in his game coming out it is his power game, as I said before he relies more on finesse and technique than raw power to do his blocking, but he is still a complete tackle. Slater may very well be gone when the Bills have the clock but If Beane finds Slater still on the board at 30 he would be hard pressed to pass, because after Slater the vale dips some.

Tevin Jenkins Oklahoma State 6’6-320

Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Jenkins has the prototypical size for tackle in the NFL, he has the height, the weight, the width, and the length to play early. What is most intriguing about Jenkins, what I believe is his greatest attribute is his bully mentality. While Williams has been more than solid in his lone year in Buffalo the veteran lacked that certain type of brawler physicality that was once synonymous with the Bills run game, Jenkins has plenty of that. He is one of the best power blockers I have scouted in this class, his film is littered with clips of him latching on to defenders and driving them well out of the box and often times right off the field of play. One of the biggest concerns surrounding this team has been the lackluster run game, Jenkins is they type of player who immediately upgrades that component of our attack day one. He does a terrific job opening clean run lanes by getting overwhelming defenders and squatting and driving them off their marks. What really pops about him, aside from his violent nature is his desire to find work, when he eliminates one defender, he immediately puts his head on a swivel and starts looking for the next block. While Jenkins thrives in the power game, he does have some room for improvement in the passing game, while OSU aired the ball out often during his time there, his sets were quick and lacked depth, most were in slide protection, which does not translate in the NFL. Jenkins will need to be working on his pass sets, gaining depth to better handle speed but the talent is still tremendous. The more I watch Jenkins’ film the more I like him, I believe there is some fine tuning with him, but I still see good value at 30 if he is still on the board.

Liam Eichenberg Notre Dame 6’6-300

Brian Blanco | Credit: AP

Eichenberg has climbed up draft boards after an extremely strong 2020 showing, not allowing a single sack on the year and according to PFF he graded out as an 85.6 Pass Blocker and a 78.8 which are high marks considering some of the talent, he faced throughout a deep ACC conference this year. Though he is not the most dynamic blocker in this class he is incredibly solid in all phases of the game. In the passing game he possesses the long reach to keep defenders at bay, and the needed footwork to gain depth in his drops to fend them off. What he does best is set and strike, he does not lunge and waist bend and put himself in a compromised position. He stays erect, with squared shoulders and coiled hands and mirrors his counterpart well, keeping them from making any meaningful pressure. When it comes to run blocking Eichenberg is very sound as well, though he does not have the overwhelming power as some others he has a great technique accompanied with a swift burst off the snap where he gets into defenders on the frontline quickly. When he applies those long arms and latches on, he is a problem to maneuver away from and defenders rarely do. He also does an exceptional job of slashing up to the second level and getting involved in the space. He has the needed athleticism to break down and cover up the faster linebackers he encounters there but with his reach and technique Eichenberg is able to eliminate them from the play. Many of the draft experts have Eichenberg rated slightly higher than I do, I think realistically he should still be on the board when the Bills get their second crack at picking, and if he is still there then I believe the value is great and Beane is almost forced to draft him.

Dillon Radunz NDSU 6’6-300

 Bruce Kluckhohn | Credit: AP

Radunz is a tall lean player who arrived at North Dakota State a 260lbs defensive end before making the transition to the other side of the ball and working himself into an NFL quality tackle. His athletic background as an end is the driving force behind his success, he has the flexibility and footspeed to match the size and strength of a tackle and uses both sets of abilities well. He moves with great fluidity and light footedness yet displays the tenacity and raw power to uproot and drive defenders off the ball. As an FCS prospect he showed out versus lower-level competition becoming an All-American in the process, but Radunz successes after playing only one game in a COVID-19 shortened season were not just had against lesser defenders, after accepting an invitation to the 2021 Reece’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama he not only held his own against fellow draftees he flashed moments of dominance as well. After a quality week of practicing and playing against some of college football’s best Radunz’s climbed up the draft boards. Earlier on in the process he was widely considered a day three pick, now some scouts are projecting him into the 2nd round. His week in Mobile did his stock wonders but it’s not the only reason he has risen, scouts have seen his film. They have seen his ability to mirror speed rushers and use his long reach. They’ve seen him bend the knees and drive defenders out of the trenches. They’ve seen him shoot out off the snap and climb up to the second level and wall defenders off effectively. They see the high ceiling; they see the 6’6 frame that can easily take on another 15-20 quality pounds of mass and they know that once he gets around NFL coaches the rougher parts of his game will be polished up like a diamond. I am high on Radunz, perhaps not as high as others but considering my evaluation of him, I believe if the Bills were to target him the best value they would get is in the 3rd round.

Walker Little Stanford 6’7-315

 Karen Ambrose Hickey/Stanford Athletics

Little is anything but little, he has the immense size and length that scouts covet for the tackle position and he is adept at using those natural skills to his benefit. In pass protection Little holds up extremely well, he has light feet that help him to shuffle and mirror defenders well, using his long reach to keep them from his body. He has the needed power in his punch to derail rushers forcing them off their path, while being patient not to chase after and get out of position. In the run game Little is more of a technician than a mauler here, but his technique is proficient. He is able to bend and smother defenders covering them up and sealing them off from the ball. The major issue in scouting Little is the little amount of film on him, after a tremendous sophomore season which earned him all PAC-12 honors he suffered a season ending knee injury in only the second game of the 2019 season, following the injury Little decided to opt out of 2020 altogether. Aside from the long absence from competition Little needs to work on his balance, he tends to slip off of blockers and lose footing, he also needs to add some functional strength to his game so he can be effective early in the NFL. There is no question that Beane is going to have to do his due diligence with Little, certainly as far as his medical issues are concerned but also if his strength and conditioning are game ready. If all the boxes check out with Little, Beane could land himself a starting tackle in the back end of the 3rd round.

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