With training camp around the corner, there are quite a few players on the team ready to make a leap in their progression as athletes in the National Football League. At BillsMafia.com, we picked 10 players poised to break out and produce at a high level.
Stay tuned throughout the next few weeks as we breakdown the 10 Buffalo Bills that are poised for breakout years in 2013!
Chris Hairston was selected with the Buffalo Bills’ fourth round pick in the 2011 NFL draft after the 6’6” 332 pounder started 36 games for the Clemson Tigers. While he wasn’t expected to see any time as a rookie, Hairston winded up appearing in 13 games, starting seven, as he filled in for the injured Demetress Bell.
Entering the 2012 season, Hairston was relegated to a backup role after the team selected Cordy Glenn to protect the blindside at left tackle, while Erik Pears started on the right side. However, when Glenn went down with an injury in a week four matchup against the New England Patriots, Hairston stepped in at left tackle, playing four games there before making a full-time switch to right tackle.
Hairston fits the mold of the big, powerful, mauling offensive lineman that the Bills seem to be building and is a perfect fit at right tackle.
Last season, Hairston’s exceptional play in the trenches was overshadowed by the likes of Andy Levitre, Eric Wood and Glenn. According to ProFootballFocus, in Hairston’s 583 snaps, he allowed just 22 quarterback pressures, ranking fifth among offensive tackles that participated in at least 25% of their respective team’s passing snaps.
Furthermore, his two sacks allowed ranked 3rd out of 72 qualifying offensive tackles.
Hairston suffered a season-ending injury in a week 13 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but is the front runner to earn the starting nod at right tackle for the 2013 season.
Hairston’s strength as a run blocker makes him an ideal bookend opposite Cordy Glenn, who has a similar stature to his, as the new coaching staff will look to incorporate more running plays than the team did last year under former head coach Chan Gailey.
The Bills’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett told BuffaloBills.com’s Chris Brown,
“You always want to be able to run the ball. It helps everybody out on the field. It’s a good chunk of yards, especially when you’re handing the ball to the guys that we have back there. It’s a very good group coached by a very good coach and it’s an exciting deal to be able to turn around and hand the ball off or from the gun or wherever it is. You really want to give those guys the ball one way or the other.”
This emphasis on the running game will certainly allow Hairston to showcase his ability as he enters his third professional season in the National Football League, the year players typically come into their own.
Like the last player in our Buffalo Bills’ Breakout Players series, Torell Troup, if Hairston is 100% healthy by the time training camp comes around, he should have a clear advantage to secure a starting role at right tackle and flourish.