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Pro Football Focus analyst pinpoints Bills' offensive line struggles

Pro Football Focus Senior Analyst Billy Moy will be contributing to BNblitz.com all season long. 

Last week we looked at how the wide receivers were shaping up midway through the preseason. This week, we move into the trenches to examine the offensive line.

The Bills are going through a tremendous amount of turnover on their offensive line, and there have been some struggles so far this preseason, most notably in Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Here is how the key players competing for jobs have held up so far.

Tackles

Dion Dawkins
Preseason Grade: 61.9
2017 Grade (rank out of 79 qualified tackles): 80.4 (8th)

Dawkins impressed as a rookie, having been called on to fill in for an injured Cordy Glenn at left tackle for much of the season. He finished the year with the eighth-best overall grade among all offensive tackles over the course of 859 snaps.

Thus far, he started at LT against Carolina and Cleveland – playing 36 snaps against the Browns – before sitting out last week’s game with a sore hip. Dawkins has allowed four pressures on 35 pass-blocking snaps so far this preseason and hasn’t made much noise as a run blocker (on just 14 run-blocking snaps).

The former second-round pick ranked 38th out of 95 tackles last season who saw at least 100 snaps in pass protection with a 96.3 pass-blocking efficiency rating (PBE measures pressure surrendered on a per-snap basis) and he ranked fourth among tackles with an 80.6 run-blocking grade.

Jordan Mills
Preseason Grade: 63.7
2017 Grade: 62.1 (55th)

Last year’s starting right tackle has started all three of Buffalo’s preseason games at the same position, totaling 101 snaps over three games. The Bills' offensive line collectively allowed 16 pressures against the Bengals last week, yet Mills was responsible for none of them and he’s surrendered a total of just three pressures this preseason on 63 pass-blocking snaps.

That aside, he's struggled to get it going as a run blocker, earning just a 52.7 run-blocking grade so far. Mills has finished each of his first five seasons with an overall grade between 55.8 and 62.7 (which we classify as below average), so at this point, there’s really no reason to expect anything different in 2018.

Marshall Newhouse
Preseason Grade: 62.6
2017 Grade: 57.9 (63rd)

Newhouse has seen most of his time this preseason as the second-team left tackle, however, he did get the start – and played 49 snaps – protecting the blind side against the Bengals filling in for Dawkins. Newhouse has had a great preseason so far in pass protection, allowing just one pressure on 56 pass-blocking snaps, but he’s been average as a run blocker (65.8 grade on 33 run-blocking snaps) while also being flagged for three penalties.

De’Ondre Wesley
Preseason Grade: 69.1
2017 Grade: N/A

Wesley has played 63 snaps this preseason, all as the second-team right tackle. He’s been rather pedestrian in pass protection, allowing five pressures on 63 pass-blocking snaps so far, but his 77.7 run-blocking grade leads all Bills tackles through three games. Wesley hasn’t seen regular-season action since 2015.

Connor McDermott
Preseason Grade: 66.2
2017 Grade: 60.0 (N/A – didn’t meet snap qualifier)

McDermott has seen 71 snaps this preseason (69 at LT and 2 at RT), all with the reserves. He’s allowed three pressures (including one sack against the Panthers on a play where he missed his assignment) on 47 pass-blocking snaps to go with a 68.7 run-blocking grade. McDermott is likely competing with Wesley for a roster spot.

Guards

Vladimir Ducasse
Preseason Grade: 50.4
2017 Grade (rank out of 78 qualified guards): 66.7 (34th)

Flipping sides of the offensive line, Ducasse has started all three preseason games at left guard after seeing all 874 of his snaps at right guard last season. The veteran has struggled in pass protection so far, allowing four pressures (including a sack where Geno Atkins drove him straight back into Josh Allen) on 59 pass-blocking snaps. To make matters worse, he’s paired that with a 50.2 run-blocking grade on 28 run-blocking snaps.

John Miller
Preseason Grade: 48.2
2017 Grade: 58.6 (N/A – didn’t meet snap qualifier)

Miller – starting all three games for Buffalo so far at right guard – has really struggled in pass protection, allowing seven total pressures (including a sack) on just 56 pass-blocking snaps. His 92.9 pass-blocking efficiency for the preseason ranks 131st of 138 guards who have seen at least 25 pass-blocking snaps. He’s paired those struggles in pass protection with a 54.5 run-blocking grade and three penalties.

Wyatt Teller
Preseason Grade: 68.6
2017 Grade: rookie

Teller has seen all his preseason snaps with the backups, and 117 out of 118 have come at left guard (with the one outlier coming at right guard). The rookie has been outstanding in pass protection, surrendering just one pressure on 74 pass-blocking snaps. He hasn’t been as sharp as a run blocker, earning just a 56.4 run-blocking grade over 37 snaps but he’s shown some promise in that area.

Ike Boettger
Preseason Grade: 55.4
2017 Grade: rookie

Boettger leads the entire Bills offense so far this preseason with 115 total snaps, playing as the reserve right guard. Boettger has struggled in pass protection, allowing six pressures on 77 pass-blocking snaps (including a play toward the end of the Cleveland game where Zaycoven Henderson rag-dolled him with an inside move to get a hit).

The undrafted rookie has coupled his struggles in pass protection with a 56.5 run-blocking grade and he’s committed two holding penalties (one as a run blocker and one in pass protection).

Centers

Russell Bodine
Preseason Grade: 59.5
2017 Grade: 66.3 (rank out of 35 qualified centers: 20th)

Bodine – who’s competing for the starting center job after signing with the Bills this offseason – has mixed in both with the starters and the second unit, totaling 67 snaps over three games. He’s struggled in pass protection, allowing three pressures (including two sacks) on 41 pass-blocking snaps as his 93.9 pass-blocking efficiency ranks 67th out of 70 centers who’ve logged at least 25 pass-blocking snaps this preseason.

The fifth-year center posted a 98.3 PBE a season ago (which ranked 20th out of 41 centers who saw at least 100 pass-blocking snaps) and surrendered just one sack. He’s been average as a run blocker this preseason (60.3 grade), but his performance there hasn’t outweighed his struggles in protection.

Ryan Groy
Preseason Grade: 57.7
2017 Grade: 71.7 (N/A – didn’t meet snap qualifier)

Groy has also seen time with both the starters and the reserves this preseason (he started against Carolina and Cincinnati), and he’s seen 16 snaps at guard in addition to 67 snaps at center. Groy has shared Bodine’s struggles in pass protection, allowing four pressures (including a sack) on 53 pass-blocking snaps, and he’s also right around Bodine with a 63.7 run-blocking grade.

The competition for Buffalo’s starting center job should still be very much alive as we enter the final week before the games start counting.

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