Bills Add 6-Foot-6 Ex-Lions Lineman to Give Josh Allen More Protection

Josh Allen, Jets

Getty Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills is tackled by Sheldon Rankins #98 and Quinnen Williams #95 of the New York Jets in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 14, 2021/

The Buffalo Bills are adding to their offensive line depth by snagging former a Detroit Lions lineman whose rookie year was shortened by injury.

After some prominent struggles from their offensive line — especially the interior line — in a playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bills have taken steps to make upgrades and bolster depth at the line. The team announced the signing of Kevin Jarvis on April 14, giving the former undrafted free agent a chance to compete for a position.

Kevin Jarvis Looking to Break Into NFL

As the Bills noted, Jarvis went undrafted after a five-year career at Michigan State where he appeared in 44 games, starting 39 of them. Jarvis initially signed with the Detroit Lions last May but was placed on injured reserve and released prior to the start of the season.

While Jarvis has yet to show what he can do in the NFL, the team noted that the 6-foot-6 lineman had a strong resume from his college career, where he showed off some versatility playing multiple positions on the right side of the line.

“As a graduate senior in the 2021 season, Jarvis earned honorable mention All-Big Ten and started in all 12 regular season games for the Spartans,” the team noted. “He made eight starts at right guard before starting the final four games at right tackle.”

The Bills have already made a number of other moves to bolster their offensive line, signing former Dallas Cowboys guard Connor McGovern and former Los Angeles Rams guard David Edwards.

The Bills also made some moves to add to their offensive line depth, including re-signing veteran guard Ike Boettger to a one-year deal. Boettger was a 10-game starter in 2021, but suffered a torn Achilles in Week 16 and appeared in just one game last season.

Given his lack of NFL experience, Jarvis would likely be competing for a backup role or a spot on the practice squad next season.

Bills Prioritize Protecting Josh Allen

The Bills have made it a stated priority to better protect quarterback Josh Allen, with general manager Brandon Beane saying last offseason that the team needed to upgrade the offensive line.

“First thing, I’m going to try and protect him,” Beane said in February 2022. “As I said earlier, I have to make sure the o-line is set and that we’re confident in them. But beyond that, always looking for the various pieces.”

But the moves the Bills made that offseason — including bringing on free agent Rodger Saffold and developing second-year tackle Spencer Brown — brought mixed results at best. Cale Clinton of Football Outsiders noted that Allen’s 33 sacks in 2022 were the second by volume in his career and the third most by percentage of dropbacks (5.0%).

Clinton noted that improving the offensive line remained the team’s top priority this offseason.

“The Bills’ current offensive tackles could stand some competition,” Clinton wrote. “Spencer Brown, a 2021 third-rounder, posted a 3.7% blown block rate in 2022, allowing 26 blown blocks in pass protection. Left tackle Dion Dawkins allowed an additional 25 total blown pass blocks, the second-worst season total of his career.”