A look at what we can expect from versatile lineman Ty Nsekhe
The consensus after the 2018 season was the the Buffalo Bills would need upgrades to most of the offensive line. Though a good many new linemen have been added, it’s still to be determined which additions represent improvements. Ty Nsekhe has taken a circuitous route to the Bills, including time in arena football which usually doesn’t suggest stardom is imminent. Add in that Nsekhe will turn 34 shortly before Halloween and perhaps your stomach sank a little bit. But let’s look at the tape to see what he brings to Buffalo.
At 6’8”, Ty Nsekhe is tall for even NFL linemen standards. As a result he has to work harder to get low for leverage. He does well on this play and as a result anchors well. The defender dips partially due to the hand fighting going on and Nsekhe mirrors the movement. Keep an eye out below as Nsekhe’s reaction time is a major positive.
Despite his massive frame, if Ty Nsekhe has a weakness it’s a bull rush. Actually, a large part of the reason is the massive frame. As noted above, he has to work harder to be the low man and frequently loses out on the leverage front. Raw strength and some hand technique prevents him from losing ground too quickly.
It doesn’t always land perfectly, but when it does Nsekhe’s punch is pretty wild. His long arms allow a solid strike well before many defensive linemen can reach in to return the favor. Jason Pierre-Paul is staggered and this is a clear victory for the left tackle.
Ty Nsekhe isn’t a very quick player and you might expect that edge defenders such as Jadeveon Clowney would be able to skirt around somewhat easily. Nsekhe tends to make good use of his arm length and box them in. He’s strong enough to slow most players down and allow his feet to catch up. Or in the case of this play, he leans into Clowney. As Clowney is attempting to move to Nsekhe’s left already the extra pressure from the tackle moves Clowney further behind the quarterback than he wanted to go.
In the middle of this battle, Nsekhe’s height looks like it will get him in trouble. Before and after he shows off how effective his hands can be as he contorts Clowney’s body with a swat from his left hand, and eradicates the clear leverage advantage with a punch from his right hand. And make no mistake, Clowney is showing superb ability to stay in the play. The fact he can continue pushing and actually gain the advantage after being rocked by the first blow is incredible. Nsekhe countering is highlight reel material.
Nsekhe isn’t incredibly quick or agile, but note again his good reaction time. Because of the distance between Nsekhe and Whitney Mercilus he’s able to shift in time. Mercilus overextends his body weight a touch and ends up on the wrong end of gravity with Nsekhe pancaking him.
For a depth player, Nsekhe consistently demonstrates good awareness. I could have extended this analysis several plays simply by adding a few clips where he has the presence of mind to turn a linebacker away from the play on a run. Like he does in Play 6, he’s not overly aggressive engaging Mercilus. Which is good, because it’s actually Jadeveon Clowney he needed to worry about. Nsekhe is seemingly oblivious but snaps into action right when he needed to. Because Clowney kept a high stance, Nsekhe has the leverage (and size). Clowney goes nowhere.
The Bills have been deliberate in getting linemen with versatility. In the case of Nsekhe he is able to man either spot on the left side of the line. As we’ve seen already, his height actually can create problems. This is still a solid block as he keeps the pocket pretty wide, but in a run support situation, this could lead to a lane closing.
Here’s some more of that awareness of the play referenced above. He knows where he needs to be and hands off the first block successfully while reaching for the second. Nsekhe can block pretty well on the move as long as he can get in arm’s length of his target. For a longer pull his speed can be a concern. When Nsekhe believes he’s about to be outraced, he will dive to attempt a cut block. These typically have average levels of effectiveness simply due to how big he is.
One reason Nsekhe does well on the move is because of his tenacity. Rather than a quick shove, he tends to grab and latch on to opponents making it difficult to circle around him. Nsekhe not only moves Myles Jack out of the way, he very nearly throws him into the air.
To be perfectly candid, Ty Nsekhe’s film was shocking. While I’m not trying to make an argument he should be first team All-Pro, there’s an excellent chance they have a Jordan Poyer-type diamond in the rough with Nsekhe. As is usually the case, the selected clips are intended to be representative of who the player is on a consistent basis. Nsekhe handled Jadeveon Clowney all game and took on spot duty against Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt to boot. Nsekhe is versatile enough to be used in different schemes and in more than one spot on the line. Based on last year’s line, Nsekhe should not only be starting but should be a major improvement.