Bills: Is rookie Richardson the best option?
Buffalo Bills left guard Chris Williams was forced out of the Week 3 loss against the San Diego Chargers with a back injury, after the team’s second offensive series. His replacement, Kraig Urbik, was solid in his first action of the season; he gave up a sack, but still graded decently in both pass protection (+0.3) and as a run blocker (+0.6).
Cyril Richardson, a rookie out of Baylor who is viewed as the future of the position in Buffalo, was a healthy inactive in Week 3, as Urbik’s comfort playing across the interior of the line makes him a superior option as game-day depth. However, if Williams happens to be forced out of the upcoming Texans game (he’s listed as ‘doubtful’ as of Friday), the team is expected to turn to Richardson, rather than Urbik.
Both players featured heavily in preseason but their performances were markedly different. Neither excelled as a run blocker, though Urbik’s -0.7 was better than Richardson’s -3.7; yet Urbik allowed just one pressure on his way to a 99.2 Pass Blocking Efficiency mark while Richardson conceded seven total pressures for a 94.9 PBE.
Williams hasn’t had a great start to his Bills career, grading negatively in both the pass (-1.5) and run game (-5.3). In fact, only five starting guards have graded worse than Williams through the first three weeks of the season. If Richardson impresses while Williams is out with his back troubles, the rookie just might grab hold of a more permanent spot in the starting lineup, but recent evidence suggests the veteran Urbik may be better placed to do so, for the present, at least.