MOBILE, Ala. – Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner undoubtedly said a lot of the right things when he met this week with Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott.
“I’m a guy who brings a tough attitude,” Risner said Thursday. “I’m a guy who will help establish a culture or fit right into a culture. I met with the Bills, and I know the Buffalo Bills have a mindset I’d fit right into.”
Risner drew attention to himself with his feisty play this week at Senior Bowl practices, and he will be an offensive lineman to watch Saturday when the college all-star game is played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium (2:30 p.m., NFL Network).
Offensive line is an obvious priority position for the Bills, who need to get more athletic along the front five. But they don’t want to sacrifice physicality in the quest for more mobility.
Risner is a three-time all-Big 12 conference pick who started four years and 50 games for the Wildcats, the last three seasons at right tackle. Early indications are he’s a second- or third-round prospect. Neither NFL.com or ESPN have him rated in the top 50. But NFL teams haven’t set their draft boards yet, and Risner helped himself this week in Mobile.
Risner is the son of a coach and an intense competitor. He’s not shy about it.
“I want to bury guys in the dirt on every single play,” Risner said. “I hope scouts watch my tape and say, ‘What was up Dalton Risner’s butt during that game?’ ”
Risner got under the skin of Boston College defensive end Zach Allen in Thursday’s practice, prompting Allen to take a wild punch at him, which fortunately missed (because Risner had his helmet on).
Then late in the practice, Raiders coach Jon Gruden gathered the North team in a circle at midfield and called out Risner to go one on one, first against Arizona State’s Renell Wren and then against Allen. Risner held them both off, with teammates whooping, and he was so excited he chest-bumped Gruden.
“I don’t like him,” a smiling Gruden said.
The question on Risner is where he best fits in the NFL. He allowed just one sack over the past three years at right tackle and has the second-best pass-blocking grade in the draft class, according to Pro Football Focus. The Big 12 was not deep in edge rushers this year. But Risner did well vs. first-round prospect Montez Sweat of Mississippi State in September.
Risner is 6-foot-4 5/8 and 308 pounds. His arms are long enough for an NFL tackle (the tackle draftee average is 34 1-4 inches) and he has big hands (10 5-8 inches). Buffalo left tackle Dion Dawkins has 35-inch arms. But Risner’s feet are not as nimble and his footwork not as sharp as some of the top tackles in the draft class.
Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy suggested Risner would fit better inside at guard or center.
Said Risner: “I had a couple informal interviews where they said, ‘You’re a tackle.’ Then I had another one where they were like, ‘You’re not a tackle, you’re an inside guy.’ ... I feel most comfortable at right tackle. I like the arm length I have for defensive ends.”
Risner will wear No. 71 for the North on Saturday.
Here are some other Senior Bowl offensive linemen who could be on the Bills’ radar (with their team and number). All of them except for Andre Dillard are likely second-day or middle-round candidates:
- Washington State’s Andre Dillard (South 60). A three-year starter at tackle with light feet who has tons of pass-blocking experience in the Cougars’ Air Raid offense. Pegged by many draftniks as a first-rounder.
- Wisconsin’s Michael Deiter (North 63). Powerful guard with versatility, made 54 career starts, second most in Big 10 history.
- Oklahoma’s Dru Samia (South 76). Firey finisher at guard with 49 career starts. Had a mostly good week in Mobile.
- Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins (South 74). Arguably the top center in the draft who could play guard, too. Played stout vs. elite SEC linemen and was solid in Mobile. Probably a second-rounder.
- North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury (North 65). Won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center. Athletic and mobile.
- Alabama State’s Tytus Howard (South 58). Converted tight end at tackle who draws comparisons to the Saints’ Teron Armstead.
- Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom (North 65). Another low-risk guard, he played in a run-heavy offense but checks the box on arm length (34 1-8) and could rise as a Day 2 pick.
- Oklahoma’s Ben Powers (South 72). Another quality Sooners guard (34 1-8 arms) who had a solid week of practice.