Pineville-alum Cody Ford picked by Bills in NFL Draft

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NASHVILLE, TN (AP) -- Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane promised no hesitations about drafting an offensive lineman on the heels of signing six newcomers in free agency.

The Bills traded up two spots in the second round of the NFL draft to select Oklahoma offensive tackle Cody Ford with the 38th overall pick on Friday night.

A Pineville native and graduate of Pineville High School, Ford is listed at 6-foot-3 and 329 pounds, and earned first-team Big 12 honors with 14 starts at right tackle as a junior last season. He was part of a Sooners line that won the Joe Moore Award, given to college football’s best unit. Ford also has experience playing guard.

The Bills dealt their second of two fifth-round draft picks — 158th overall — to move up two spots in a trade with the Oakland Raiders.

Ford was initially projected to be a first-round selection and was still in Nashville, Tennessee, where the draft was held. He was watching the draft on television in his hotel room.

Ford’s selection continued Buffalo’s offseason bid to overhaul what had been a patchwork line last season. Beane dismissed the notion that he was done addressing Buffalo’s offensive line needs about 10 days before the draft.

Ford’s versatility means he can compete for various jobs on a line that could feature five new starters, including center Mitch Morse.

Buffalo’s other offensive additions were tackles LaAdrian Waddle and Ty Nsekhe and guards Spencer Long, Jon Feliciano and Quinton Spain.

After redshirting in 2015, Ford’s first season was cut short after he broke his left leg three games into 2016.

He returned to start 12 games at left guard in 2016.

Last year, he was credited with a team-best 127 knockdowns while allowing just two sacks.

“I’m thrilled for Cody. He had to overcome a ton here at OU with the really bad injury against Ohio State in his first year and then moving positions,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said in a release issued by the school. “He’s one of the nastiest offensive linemen I’ve ever coached, and I think he was probably the most dominant tackle in the country last year.”

Ford’s selection was announced by Bills former center Eric Wood, who was forced to retire a year ago after sustaining a career-ending neck injury.

The Bills opened their draft by selecting Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver with the ninth pick Thursday.

Buffalo has seven selections remaining, including a third-round pick, 74th overall.

Oliver addressed an immediate need in being pegged to replace Kyle Williams, who retired after 13 seasons in Buffalo.

The 21-year-old Oliver said his first objective is earning a spot on the team.

“Kyle Williams is in a league of his own I haven’t even come close to touching,” Oliver said. “I just want to come in and compete.”

He spoke after traveling with his family from Nashville, arriving at the Bills facility where he met with team officials, including owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

Oliver noted Williams was among the first people to reach out to him after being drafted.

“It was basically letting me know everything’s going to be all right, and if I need anything to hit him up,” he said, noting he plans to take Williams up on his offer. “Just him taking the time out of his day, he didn’t have to do that. I feel honored.”