The Bills need a Wide Receiver and that’s no secret. Right now, it is Sammy + nobody.
Yeah, they acquired Philly Brown, who averages 12.9 yards per game in his career and Andre Holmes, who is apparently a good special teamer and averages 14.3 yards per game (his top year was 2014 with 14.7 yards per game). But let’s face it: this offseason was pretty decent with a lot of WR hitting the open market (Marshall, Torrey Smith, Jeffrey, even Pryor!) and the Bills didn’t address the position, nor where linked to any of those guys. This reminds me so much to the 2011 season, when Stevie was your #1 guy and the #2 spot was battled between Patrick Moran’s guy Marcus Easley, fan base favorite Naaman Roosevelt and John Murphy’s co-host Donald Jones. Wow.
Who will start opposite to Sammy this season? Either the #2 WR is in the roster (which I don’t think so) or it isn’t. In the first theory, you can have Charles Clay playing more of a WR role, but I’m not buying it. The guy is too valuable in his position since he basically does everything: even getting open with Tyrod looking to the outside. By the way, I’m not buying this “Tyrod and Clay really got in tune at the end of last season so we can expect more chemistry on 2017” narrative. I remember hearing the same at the end of 2015 and Clay was under utilized for receiving purposes on 2016. Just stop it and make Tyrod throw to the middle.
The point is: Tyrod is no Drew Brees, and while I hate the “surround your QB with weapons” point (see EJ Manuel and the Sammy trade), it is a fact that a so-so QB needs WRs to make up for his deficiencies. Joe pointed out that, without Shady, Sammy and Clay, Tyrod’s performance was substantially compromised. Sammy’s injuries history speak for themselves and, since the Bills are not in a rebuild mode (thank God), they need another premium WR. Can they find it on the draft? Let’s see.
Since 2001, the Bills have drafted 16 WRs:
- 2 first rounders: Lee Evans (2004) and Sammy (2014)
- 4 second rounders: Josh Reed (2002), Roscoe Parrish (2005), James Hardy (Yikes: 2008), and Bob “the blocker” Woods (2013).
- 2 third rounders: TJ Graham (aka the No Russell Wilson pick: 2012) and Marquise Goodwin (2013)
- 2 fourth rounders
- 0 fifth rounders
- 1 sixth rounder
- 5 (yes, FIVE) 7th rounders
So it is safe to say that the Bills like drafting WRs either in the second round or in the seventh round. Of course, with the exception of Stevie, the latter doesn’t count. I’m sorry, I’m not betting my house (which I don’t owe) on Dezmin Lewis.
And the problem here is that the production of their second and third rounders drop a lot in comparison with the first rounders! Sammy averages 66.46 yards per game and Lee Evans averaged, in his career, 50.92 yards per game.
The second rounders? Well… the numbers aren’t impressive. The best of the gang is Bob Woods with 43 yards per game, while Roscoe and Hardy average below 17 yards per game. And the third rounders? Goodwin and Graham accrue 1,574 yards in both careers and only 10 touchdowns: all in 86 games altogether!
And that’s exactly the issue. The bills have drafted some busts when picking WR below the first round (see Hardy or TJ Graham), and that’s scary since in this day and age, in the first three rounds you’re expected to draft a guy who comes in and play.
As can be noted from the list of the drafted guys, the Bills tend to draft two types of receivers below the first round: speedy guys (TJ, Marquise) or short/sneaky rout runners (Roscoe, Stevie, Bob Woods). Maybe it is time to draft a giant/average speed guy who can create a mismatch against receivers; sort of a Justin Hunter 2.0. I’m not asking for a Mike Evans, but you can surely find a guy who can step up when teams are double covering Sammy or in the red zone.
I know that there are a LOT of needs and I do think that Safety, CB and WR are on the mix, while I don’t think they are picking a QB at 10. Since, according to the “experts” (clearly, I’m not talking about John Clayton) this is a deep CB and Safety draft class, then in principle they should go to WR in the first round. Chances are? The Bills won’t think that the available WR at 10 will match the value and they’ll pick something else.
Even though I’m fine with not ‘over drafting’ because of a need, they really do have to get better at drafting a WR outside the first round. Another Woods would be fine, but I don’t want ‘fine’. I want great; and there are a lot of examples of great WR drafted in second or third rounds. Please, Bills. Get one of those examples.
I just hope that our GM Sean McDermott can find that guy so that we can have some fun when Tyrod is throwing, instead of eating our nails or expecting an 8 yard check-down, as usual.