The Buffalo Bills head into the 2022 NFL season with one of the strongest rosters in the entire league, however, there’s always room for improvement. Before the Bills’ training camp kicks off on July 24 at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton urges the team to make one more move.
As of Saturday, June 18, Buffalo has just over $5.6 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.com, and Wharton acknowledges, “As with most Super Bowl contenders, the Buffalo Bills have leveraged their cap sheet as much as they can in order to maximize their roster quality.
“The Bills also don’t have many needs, so we had to find a young player with upside who could benefit from a positional change or new scenery.”
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Wharton suggests the Bills trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to obtain offensive lineman Walker Little in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round pick. Little, who was the Jags’ second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, started three games as a rookie last season. The 6-foot-7, 309-pound lineman earned solid 68.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
“The Bills’ biggest weakness is along the interior of their offensive line,” Wharton wrote. “Signing veteran Rodger Saffold was a good short-term addition, but there’s uncertainty at left guard beyond 2022, and the right guard spot will be decided between Ryan Bates and Cody Ford. Bates played just 294 snaps last year, and Ford has never established himself despite being a second-round pick in 2019.”
Because Jaguars re-signed fifth-year veteran Cam Robinson to massive, three-year $54 million contract extension, the team is secure at left tackle. And the team’s second-round draft pick from the 2019 NFL Draft, Jawaan Taylor, at right tackle, Wharton suggests Jacksonville can let Little go:
He could benefit from a move to guard in Buffalo since he’s a solid athlete but struggles with dealing with power rushers off the edge. The best case is Buffalo adds a starting-caliber guard for a Day 3 pick. The worst case is they bolster a position of need for two years until Little is a free-agent.
However, with Taylor set to become a free agent in 2023, it would make sense if the Jaguars held on to Little this season, allow him to get more on-field action this season, and see if he’s worth keeping before trading him away.
Little Can Play Both Right & Left Tackle
In 2017, Little became the first true freshman to start at left tackle at Stanford since 2000, per SB Nation, and earned the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honor. After getting drafted by the Jaguars, with Robinson the clear starter at right tackle, Little started training at left tackle.
“I noticed at the beginning it was definitely different for me, took a little bit, but now I feel very comfortable on the right side of the field, just as comfortable on the left and the right,” Little told Jacksonville.com in January 2022. “I (did) it all season.”
According to Little, he could also move inside to play guard. “I’ll play wherever I need to play,” Little told Jaguar.com‘s John Oehser on May 27. “Ultimately, I’m just here as a football player, an offensive lineman. Wherever they want me on the line, I’ll fight for it and I’ll play. I’ll do my best to open up lanes for the running backs and protect the quarterback. That’s our job as OL. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself as just tackle or just anything else.”
Being able to play both left, right tackle, and possibly guard, it’s the type of versatility Bills head coach Sean McDermott loves having on the roster.
Little’s NFL Debut Came During the Jaguars’ Upset Over the Bills in Week 9
The 23-year-old former All-Pac 12 first team made his NFL debut during what would become one of the biggest regular-season upsets in Bills’ history. Buffalo entered Week 9 favored to win by 14.5 points, but lost to Jacksonville 9-6.
Little found out 10 minutes before kickoff that he would be starting after Robinson suddenly sustained a back injury during warmups, as reported by SI‘s John Shipley.
“Yeah, I mean, honestly, the first second I was like ‘Oh s***, here we go,'” Little said, who played a big role in defeating the No.1 rated defense in the NFL. “But then like once I was there like, I felt like I prepared really well.” Now, Little is focused on earning a starting role on a permanent basis.
“We’re all competing with each other,” he told Oehser. “Even if you’re a 10-year guy with his spot secured, you always have competition inside you… It’s just competing with myself and being the best version of myself each day and making sure I do my job the best I can. If I can do that, hopefully, the results will be what I want them to be. We’ll figure it out from there.”
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