Buffalo Bills

Nate’s Notebook: Built Cody Ford Tough.

One of the steals of the 2019 draft was Cody Ford. The Oklahoma Sooner offensive lineman was widely considered a first-round pick, maybe even a top 20 pick. But fortunately for the Bills, Ford began to slide, possibly because scouts were torn between if his future should be at tackle or guard.

By the time it was all said and done, Ford was the 9th offensive linemen selected in the draft, which seems laughable. In a league that values the offensive line, why did so many teams pass on Cody Ford?

A Man Without a Position

Guard or tackle? This is the main question teams ask about Cody Ford. He’s built like a guard, standing a shade under 6’4” and weighing nearly 330 lbs. In college, he started his career as a guard, starting seven games as a freshman and sophomore. As a junior, Ford was moved out to right tackle, lost about 15 pounds and became a First Team All Big 12 player. He declared for the NFL draft, and the move to tackle seemingly paid off for him. 

The Bills clearly liked Ford at right tackle. And I think it’s the right move in the long term. Yes, Ford is built more like a traditional guard, but his skill set is well suited for right tackle. NFL teams traditionally want a long, lean left tackle that has long arms and quick feet. For a right tackle, teams look for a mauler in the run game with solid pass blocking ability.

Cody Ford fits that bill. He’s a road grader in the run game. He’s nasty and mean. Plus, he’s got pretty cool hair. That has to count for something, right? As a pass blocker though, Ford has shown that he has the tools to be great. It hasn’t always been pretty for him at Oklahoma or in Buffalo, but remember, this is a guy with only 14 games experience as a tackle before entering the NFL. The tools are there. The polish will come. 

Risk/Reward

There seems to be very little downside in putting Ford at right tackle. If it doesn’t work out, slide him to guard and call it a day. If he works out at tackle, then you’re set at the most important position on the offensive line. That versatility that likely caused him to slip is actually a positive. 

I have to think Ford has a giant chip on his shoulder. Thinking back to draft night, he was the lone player in the green room that went home after round 1 without a team. But like a real man, he showed up for Day 2 and got his moment.


Have Patience

Bills fans, be patient with Cody Ford. Being a rookie offensive lineman is a difficult thing. It’s not a position many guys come into and succeed right away. Add in the fact that he’s still learning the position, and it only makes sense that he’s going to need some time to become the dominant starter everyone envisioned on draft night.

Tackle is a more difficult position than Guard. You have to be tough in the run game while also dealing with the Von Miller’s of the world in the passing game. There’s also the transition from Oklahoma’s wide-open Run n’ Shoot offense to Buffalo’s more traditional pro-style attack. Ford has a rare combination of size and athleticism, great lateral agility for a big man, and exceptional power.

As he learns the nuances of the position, the footwork and balance to deal with NFL level speed rushers will develop. He might be a year or two away from hitting his stride, but he’s definitely a guy I want defending my franchise quarterback.

But don’t take my word for it. Take his.

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