2018 was a rough year for Bills fans. One year after breaking an eighteen-year hiatus from the postseason, the Bills went right back to where they were: under .500.
One of the biggest problems for the Bills was their offense; more specifically the offensive line, and even more specifically, center.
Eric Wood had been the Bills’ center since 2009. Taken in the first round of the 2009 draft and became a crucial member of the Bills’ offense.
While Wood was at center, he was largely responsible for multiple 1,000 yard rushing seasons, with a Pro Bowl appearance in 2015. Unfortunately, a lingering neck injury caused him to hang up his cleats early after last season.
Woods was surely missed this season as the Bills’ running game was practically non-existent. His successors were Ryan Groy, who was graded at 46.7 according to PFF, and Russel Bodine, who was graded at 61.6. Both were two of the lowest graded centers in 2018. In total, the Bills had 1,984 rushing yards, with LeSean McCoy having his worst season of his career barely eclipsing 500 yards.
The Bills and General Manager Brandon Beane should target a new center this offseason, whether through the draft or in free agency. In the draft, Ohio State’s Michael Jordan (77.0) and North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradberry (85.7) are two prospects to keep an eye on.
Jordan (not to be confused with the basketball legend, of course) has been a solid lineman on Ohio State’s dominant offense since his freshman season in 2016. He moved to center this year, replacing 2018 first-round selection Billy Price, and received high praise from many highly regarded NFL scouts.
Bradberry, a quick and athletic center, was the winner of this years College Football’s top Center award, the Rimington trophy, and a first-team All-American. Either of these picks would be worthy of a second or third round selection.
On the other hand, if the Bills decide to upgrade the position through free agency, Denver’s Matt Paradis (79.0) and Kansas City’s Mitch Moorse (70.0) are options, especially with the projected cap space they have.
This past Tuesday (2/12/19), the Bills signed former Jets center Spencer Long, who was graded worse than the centers the Bills already have on the roster currently. Not the best move Buffalo could make.
If the Bills want to avoid another season where in which their star running back has fewer rushing yards than their quarterback, center should be at the top of their offseason shopping list in 2019.