BBD Editor: Dan Hope
The most wide-open competition on the Buffalo Bills’ roster is at left guard, where the team is replacing one of the league’s best guards, Andy Levitre, following his departure to the Tennessee Titans as an unrestricted free agent.
The Bills made a notable move to bolster that competition Wednesday by signing veteran offensive lineman Doug Legursky, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Legursky appeared in 50 regular-season games in four seasons with the Steelers, including 17 starts. He has also made two postseason starts. The most notable moment of Legursky’s career to this point came in Super Bowl XLV, which he started at center filling in for injured starter Maurkice Pouncey.
Legursky has never been a full-time starter, but he has spot-starting experience at all three interior line positions. While he is best suited to play center, and could immediately become Eric Wood’s backup at that position, his chance to earn a starting job will come at left guard, where the Bills have no proven starter.
As staff writer Eric Samulski broke down in May, Bills could have up to five other contenders to start at left guard between Colin Brown, Sam Young, Chris Scott, Zebrie Sanders and Zack Chibane. Those five players, however, have only six career NFL starts between them (four by Young, two by Brown).
Legursky is not going to be viewed as a long-term starting option at left guard. In his past three seasons, Legursky’s combined Pro Football Focus grade (subscription required) for his 778 snaps at guard is a very unimpressive number at -19.7. His subpar play in his starts likely led to him being unsigned until June.
What Legursky does bring to the table that none of his competition can offer is significant starting experience, including in the biggest of games. If he can adjust quickly to playing left guard in Bills coach Doug Marrone’s offensive system, his experience could give him a leg up to be the short-term starting left guard for 2013.
The best-case scenario for the Bills would be for 2012 fifth-round pick Zebrie Sanders to bounce back strong and prove himself as a viable long-term option at left guard. Sanders is a physically-gifted offensive lineman with high upside, but he missed his entire rookie season due to labral tears in both hips.
Among the incumbent players, the favorite to start should be Colin Brown, an athletic, 6’7”, 326-pound offensive lineman entering his fourth season with the Bills.
But without any proven starter on the roster at left guard, and a new coaching staff in Buffalo, the competition at the position should be wide open. At the very least, Legursky can provide three-position depth at both center and guard, but he should receive immediate opportunities the rest of the offseason to compete for the starting left guard spot.