Draft bust? Victim of circumstance? About to break out? The former second-round pick is at a crossroads
The Buffalo Bills have done a great job in the NFL Draft under general manager Brandon Beane. If you extend back to the 2017 NFL Draft, when Beane was still with the Carolina Panthers and head coach Sean McDermott was shadow-running the draft with former GM Doug Whaley, Buffalo has had a six-year run of solid drafting.
That doesn’t mean that the team’s picks have been perfect. Even the best general managers swing and miss sometimes, which shouldn’t detract from the overall good vibes that fans have about the team’s direction. While so many of the picks made by Beane and McDermott/Whaley have come in and contributed, there are some who just haven’t performed up to expectations.
In today’s edition of “90 payers in 90 days,” we profile one such draft choice—a second-round pick who is firmly in the “bust” conversation.
Name: Cody Ford
Height/Weight: 6’3” 329 lbs
Age: 25 (26 on 12/28/2022)
Experience/Draft: 4; selected in the second round (No. 38 overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Bills
Acquired: Second-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Ford enters the final year of his rookie contract, a four-year deal that totals $7,506,640 overall. For the 2022 season, Ford carries a cap hit of $2,388,741 if he makes the roster. Buffalo would be charged a dead-cap hit of $869,994 should they trade or release him.
2021 Recap: Ford appeared in 15 games last year, making seven starts. He opened the year as the team’s starting right guard, but after three mediocre performances, he was replaced by Ike Boettger. Ford filled in as a reserve throughout the rest of the season, but rather than reclaiming his starting gig when Boettger was lost for the year, the Bills chose to start Ryan Bates instead. That was a good decision, as the line played better with Bates in at guard than at any other point in the season. Ford played on 47% of Buffalo’s offensive snaps and 19% of their special teams snaps. He allowed two sacks and committed two penalties.
Positional outlook: Ford is one of quite a few “slash” players along the offensive line, a designation the team gives to those who can play multiple spots up front. The other guards on the roster are Boettger, Bates, Greg Mancz, Jacob Capra, and Rodger Saffold. The other tackles on the roster are Dion Dawkins, Spencer Brown, Tommy Doyle, Bobby Hart, Luke Tenuta, Derek Kerstetter, Tanner Owen, and Alec Anderson. David Quessenberry is listed as a T/G, the only player besides Ford to earn that particular designation. Greg Van Roten signed with the team, but he’s yet to be added to the official roster.
2022 Offseason: Ford is healthy and he has participated in OTAs to date.
2022 Season outlook: This offseason is of particular importance to Ford, whose NFL career is truly at a crossroads. He hasn’t lived up to his draft position, to this point failing to settle in at either tackle or guard. He’s been given multiple opportunities, having started 29 games in his NFL career. He’s consistently been beaten out by players with lesser draft pedigrees (Boettger and Bates).
Barring injury or a miraculous improvement in performance, Ford isn’t going to be in the top five offensive linemen, and he’ll be in a dogfight to remain in the top nine. If the Bills keep nine offensive linemen, they’ll have at least Mitch Morse joining Dawkins, Brown, Saffold, and Bates as the probable starting group. I’d give Doyle, Mancz, and Quessenberry the edge over Ford, as well as Boettger, who will almost certainly start the year on the PUP list. The team also signed Van Roten mere weeks ago, signaling that they aren’t fully comfortable with their depth.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Buffalo outright release Ford this summer, although they could look to find a trade partner. Another possibility is that they flip Van Roten and Quessenberry for draft capital, leaving Ford as the ninth lineman and the inactive player on game days. In any case, Ford isn’t someone the team will try to shoehorn into a starting gig anymore, and they seem ready to move on from their 2019 second-round pick sooner rather than later.
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