Scott Chandler was cut four times by three teams in four years. Buffalo signed the 6’7” target and got 38 grabs with six receiving touchdowns out him. Chandler showed the ability to make tough catches and was adequate as a blocker. I like Chandler and I think he’s a keeper. Having said that, I do not believe that Chandler is the TE you hang your hat on. Prior to 2011, most people never heard of him.
Today, the Bills have Chandler and four others who most fans never heard of – Kevin Brock, Lee Smith, Fendi Onobun and Mike Caussin – with a combined total of 11 catches last year. Most teams do not have Gronkowski and Hernandez and that’s not the barometer I want to use. I do think adding a “plan A” to go with our quality “plan B” makes a lot of sense, though. There are a handful of athletic TE/H-back prospects that can be found beyond round 4 this year and I think this is a real possibility.
Plan of Attack: Workout some of the top athletic TE’s in this April’s draft.
The line play improved in 2011 despite its streaky nature at times. Even with the improved play, I do not see most of the spots being completely safe and the team still needs quite a bit of help in the depth department. As far as pure talent goes, center, Eric Wood, has the most of it. Wood has struggled with injuries and he has not been able to reach potential because of this. With his leg at 100% this year, if he can stay healthy, I fully expect Wood to be a standout at the pivot.
Starting guards, Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik, are serviceable, but neither spot should be ignored if a good opportunity presents itself. Both Levitre and Urbik could use a push and both had their fair share of shaky play. Back-up Chad Rinehart was inconsistent at best and should look for more competition this year. Potential improvement on the starting guards and definite improvement to the depth side must be considered.
The two tackle positions were manned by multiple players during the year including Andy Levitre who moved out to tackle out of necessity due to injuries. Levitre struggled quite a bit at tackle as compared to guard and showed why he was projected to move inside coming out of college. The starting tackles, Demetrius Bell and Erik Pears, performed well in pass protection early in the season, and both struggled getting real push in the running game. Injuries also affected both men during the season. Bell was a late round project pick a couple of years ago and he has improved quite a bit since coming into the league. Now, Bell is an athletic tackle who is a free agent this year. I like Bell and I would like to re-sign him, but I would also like to improve the quality of the tackle position overall, and I think that could be done early in the draft.
Bell’s backup, Chris Hairston, spent time at both tackle positions and proved to be better suited for the right side. Hairston was actually decent as a right tackle and struggled a ton on the left side. He just does not have the athleticism to keep up with any quality outside rushers.
Plan of Attack: Identify top OT’s in this April’s draft and get one in the first two rounds. Continue to review draft and free agent pool for depth across the board.