By Tim Graham
The Buffalo Bills seemed to have found a franchise tackle last year, when they drafted Cordy Glenn in the second round.
But the other tackle spot emerged as a major concern.
What if the Bills were to draft another top-flight tackle in April to give themselves bookends for years to come?
It's an intriguing thought.
"I think offensively you look at quarterback first and you look at left tackle second," Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said last week at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium. "Now it has changed, and one of the ways is the right tackle is more important."
Right tackle was a significant problem for Buffalo last year. Of the 30 sacks the Bills allowed, eight were surrendered by players who started at right tackle, according to STATS Inc.
Erik Pears started the first seven games before suffering a season-ending hip injury. He gave up three sacks. Despite playing less than half the season, Pears tied for fifth on the team in most penalties. He was flagged for two holds, two false starts and one unnecessary roughness.
Chris Hairston replaced Pears for the next five games then went down with an ankle injury. Hairston allowed four sacks all season and committed four penalties.
Sam Young, who barely made the roster out of training camp, started the last four games at right tackle. He surrendered just one sack and committed only a false start, but the Bills can't rely on him in 2013.
"I just think he has to be more athletic," Nix said about right tackles in general. "I think all that's happened -- a lot of it's happened -- in the last two or three years.
"Too many spread offenses, you don't have the tight end always on the right side to help that guy out. So you have to figure out a way to help them if he's not as good. So I think that's the biggest change is at that side."
NFL draft analysts were skeptical Glenn could play left tackle. They thought he was better suited for the right side, and perhaps that's why he slid to the second round.
Glenn started 13 games at left tackle. He missed three games in October because of an ankle sprain. Although he was considered effective for a rookie, he did allow eight sacks and committed 10 penalties.
So what if Texas A&M star left tackle Luke Joeckel slides for some reason or Central Michigan's Eric Fisher is on the board when the Bills draft eighth overall? Or what if there's a top-rated tackle waiting for them early in the second round?
The Bills could be the O-line envy of the AFC East.
tagged2013 draft | 2013 NFL scouting combine | Buddy Nix | Chris Hairston | Cordy Glenn | Erik Pears | Sam Young