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Bills Mailbag: What's the best position for Cody Ford moving forward – guard or tackle?

Jay Skurski

Let's get right to the questions this week:

Ryan Volkman asks: Do you believe the Bills will move Cody Ford inside to guard? Or will they leave him at tackle? Either way, the position he’s not playing is where we can get better.

Jay: Good question. The Bills were less than forthcoming when asked about Ford’s position at the NFL Scouting Combine. The bottom line is, the team would feel comfortable moving Ford inside if it found a better option at tackle. While doing so wouldn’t quite be an admission of failure or mean that Ford is a bust of a second-round pick, I think there would be a sense of disappointment if he moved inside this early in his career. Of the 12 highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL, nine are tackles. The Bills got good enough play from free agents Jon Feliciano and Quinton Spain last year at guard. Spain is an impending free agent, but shouldn’t cost all that much to bring back. The Bills have Ford on a cost-controlled contract for three more years. They just moved up in the second round of the draft to select him. If they move him now, then what? Ty Nsekhe will be 35 next season and is entering the final year of his contract. He’s best suited to be the swing tackle. That leaves a huge hole at starting right tackle. The Bills could make a big splash in free agency or spend a first-round pick on the position, but that’s taking away resources from someplace else. The best-case scenario is that Ford develops into a quality starter at tackle. I’d use him there until it becomes apparent he can’t do the job.

Richard Sanderson asks: With nine picks in the draft, do you think the Bills pick up more offensive or defensive players?

Ed Helinski asks: Realistically in your estimation, how many players will the Bills draft? Nine picks seem like a lot and Brandon Beane likes to use picks to move up in some rounds.

Jay: In Beane’s two seasons running the draft, Buffalo has chosen 16 players. Eight have been on offense and eight have been on defense. That’s a bit surprising given the bigger need has been on offense in that time. It leads you to believe the whole idea of “best player available” isn’t just lip service. Assuming the Bills keep all nine picks, I’d expect it to once again be close. In reality, we have to wait until free agency is over before we can truly assess the team’s needs heading into the draft.

As for Ed’s question, I’m in total agreement. I don’t think nine drafted rookies are making the roster. Whether it’s a move up in the first round, as Beane did in 2018 to select Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds, a move up in the second round as with Cody Ford in 2019, or a move up in the third round as with Dawson Knox last year, I would not be surprised to see the team go and get a player it feels provides good value. I’ll say the Bills end the draft with the traditional seven picks.

#BillsMafia Los Angles asks: The Bills did well with Devin Singletary and veteran running back Frank Gore. Do you think they’ll keep Gore, release him and target another running back in free agency or only rely on Singletary?

Jay: First off, they won’t release Gore. His contract expires March 18, the start of the NFL’s new league year. At that point, he’ll be free to sign with another team. I don’t expect the Bills to bring him back. They will add another running back, whether it be through free agency or the draft. That question boils down to whether Beane wants a veteran or is comfortable with a rookie. Don’t rule out T.J. Yeldon being a factor in 2020, either. The Bills liked how Yeldon handled himself in 2019 when he wasn’t playing. I’m somewhat surprised he didn’t get more of an opportunity, but the Bills want their third running back to play special teams, which is why Senorise Perry was active (he’s also going to be a free agent).

Donald Parrish asks: Favorite and least-favorite ideas for the Bills’ Week 1 opponent? Can be home or away.

Jay: Allow me to make this all about myself, Donald. My favorite opener is the Jets, because that gives me a chance to play Bethpage Black in September. My least favorite is the Dolphins, because that robs me of a trip to Miami when it’s cold here. From a Bills’ perspective, I like the idea of opening with the Jets on the road, like last year. It’s an opportunity to start the season off right with a divisional road win. The Bills’ least-favorite idea for an opener, in my mind, would be seeing the Chiefs. Kansas City is scheduled to come to New Era Field, and it's unlikely the defending Super Bowl champions would open on the road.

Professor Reid asks: Do you have an educated guess on term and average annual value for a Matt Milano extension? What other current NFL contracts can be used for that guess?

Jay: A very good comparison can be made with a player McDermott and Beane are familiar with: Carolina’s Shaq Thompson. He signed a four-year extension worth potentially $54 million with $27 million in guarantees. Thompson was a first-round pick, so that potentially influences his value. Over their first three years in the league, though, Milano has more games played (44 to 42), tackles (149 to 112), quarterback hits (16 to 10), forced fumbles and recoveries (7 to 3) and interceptions (4 to 1). If the Bills could get Milano on a four-year, $50 million extension, it would be a good value for the team.

Mike Canfield asks: What, if any, are the implications of the recent staff-promotion announcements?

Jay: Aside from the obvious – a bump in pay – it’s a way for Sean McDermott to publicly recognize and reward his staff for the job they’ve done. Particularly with Leslie Frazier, it shows the amount of trust McDermott has and perhaps serves as a message to other teams that they should be looking at the new assistant head coach as a head-coaching candidate. In terms of changes on game day, the most interesting new title is that of “game management,” which will be held by Marc Lubick in addition to his title of assistant wide receivers coach. Particularly when it comes to the clock, game management is an area McDermott has struggled with at times in his three years.

Bob Kazamakis asks: Jimmy Graham?

Jay: Meh. If it’s on a cheap, one-year contract, I’d be OK with it. I’m not getting into any kind of a bidding war, though. Graham turns 34 in November and is coming off a year in which he caught 38 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns from Aaron Rodgers. I suppose Graham would be an upgrade on Tyler Kroft as the No. 2 tight end, but I’d rather let Dawson Knox grow into the starting role than try to force Graham into the lineup.

John Hunter asks: Do you think the Bills should reunite with Jason Peters?

Jay: Double meh. Peters is a future Hall of Famer, but he’s 38. What kind of message would that send to Dion Dawkins? If you’re Peters, are you signing in Buffalo – even if it would provide a nice coming-full-circle end to his career – if you’re not guaranteed a starting position? I would imagine he’s looking for a team he feels is closer to a Super Bowl with a question mark at left tackle.

SixOfOneSevenOfNine asks: Unless an edge rusher or offensive tackle they really love drops, I think the Bills will be looking to add a defensive back. Kyle Dugger makes a lot of sense to compete and learn as the No. 2 or No. 3 slot cornerback this year, and have him ready to move to safety the following year if Jordan Poyer leaves as a free agent. Thoughts?

Jay: To be frank, I don’t love the idea. I know Beane talks about wanting to draft the “best player available,” but is it any coincidence that in his first two drafts, the team has used first-round picks on a quarterback, middle linebacker and defensive tackle? Those just so happened to be the biggest positional needs on the roster at the time. I’d much rather find an edge rusher, offensive tackle or wide receiver in the first round. Beane has said when evaluations of prospects are close, he’ll lean toward taking the player at a position of need. I find it hard to believe they would have Dugger ranked so much higher than, say, an edge rusher, wide receiver or offensive tackle at No. 22 that they couldn't pass on him. I also don’t like the idea of drafting Dugger and then having him move positions. The Bills found Poyer in free agency. What’s to say they couldn’t find a similar player next year if they decide not to bring him back?

Shane Carmody asks: Would the Bills win the Super Bowl with Tom Brady as their quarterback?

Jay: Last year or this upcoming season? In both cases, my answer is no. Brady would have made the Bills better in 2019, but I don’t think the Bills would have beaten the Chiefs with him. He might very well make them better in 2020, too, but I wouldn’t bring him in. The Bills have invested significant draft capital and time in developing Allen. They need to see that through. As Beane said at his end-of-season press conference, he doesn’t feel like the team is “one player away.” That’s true, even if that one player is the greatest of all time.

Dave Universal asks: Tom Brady in 2020 will play for … you only get one guess!

Jay: The Chargers. Tom Telesco trying to sell Tyrod Taylor as the starter there feels forced.

Coach asks: Are the Sabres the worst franchise in pro sports? Asking for a friend.

Jay: Nah. The Cleveland Browns are still in the NFL, right? The Seattle Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001! None of this is to say the Sabres have managed to do much of anything right in the last decade, mind you.

Louis Stromberg asks: I’ve noticed you’ve been cc’ing The Bills Mafia quite a bit this year. So, let’s see your cc skills – please rank the following cc’s: Bocce’s Pizza, CC Sabathia, getting the hiccups, cappuccinos, accountants.

Jay: 5. Accountants. My good buddy Jim is an accountant. He thinks he’s better than me at golf, but he’s not. 4. CC Sabathia. Let’s go Red Sox. 3. Getting the hiccups. When someone has them? Hilarity. When you have them? Not so funny. 2. Cappuccinos. Is it bad that my favorite would be French vanilla from a gas station? I’m not exactly cultured when it comes to cappuccinos. 1. Bocce’s Pizza. Most of the time, pizza is going to come in at No. 1 on my power rankings. Thanks again for all the questions … if I didn’t get to yours this week, check back next Sunday!

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