Who will the Buffalo Bills start at Wide Receiver opposite of Steve Johnson?
The Bills shocked the entire world by re-signing problematic receiver, Steve Johnson to a five-year contract extension worth $36.25 million dollars this off-season. Buffalo rarely spends money on people with character concerns, and considering that Johnson had multiple excessive celebration penalties last year alone, shows how much faith head coach Chan Gailey has in the former Kentucky star’s skill set. However, the team now needs to find a reliable option on the other side of the field to give Johnson more space to work with.
Here is a quick look at the other receivers currently still on the Buffalo Bills’ roster:
David Clowney – Clowney is the best preseason wideout in the history of the NFL, but has yet to put it together in a regular season game. He honestly is the bottom of the barrel at the position.
Marcus Easley – A fan favorite in Buffalo because of his 6’2”, 217-pound frame, but still has yet to register a catch in a regular season game.
Derek Hagan – Hagan holds every receiving record at Arizona State, but has yet to put it together in the NFL.
Donald Jones – Jones became the team’s deep threat with Lee Evans being shown the door, but has to show he can play a full 16 game season to be a permanent fixture in the offense.
Ruvell Martin – The guy most likely to be cut if the team drafts a high round rookie.
David Nelson – Nelson emerged as Buffalo’s second receiver last season, but lacks the skill set to be a long-term option as a starter.
Naaman Roosevelt – The pride of the University at Buffalo was called up from the practice squad after numerous injuries to the Bills’ offense, but a strong showing has guaranteed himself playing time in 2012.
Brad Smith – Smith was brought in because of his dynamic wildcat-quarterback ability, but ended up playing more at receiver down the stretch.
As of right now the Bills are likely to start Nelson on the other side of Steve Johnson. He showed glimpses of being a productive player last season, but lacks the size to be a true possession wideout or the blazing speed to extend the field. Nelson is best suited to be a third or fourth wideout, so he could eventually lose the job down the stretch to any receiver who steps up.
However, many Buffalo fans are very hopeful of what the 2012 NFL Draft could bring. Todd McShay from ESPN has recently said that he thinks that the Bills will take Notre Dame receiver, Michael Floyd in the first round, which would be a horrible value pick. Floyd’s skill set is identical to the other receivers that are being projected in the second or third round, but more importantly picking the ND star would not help the team address their oft-injured offensive line.
Buffalo will certainly be searching for a reliable target to plug in opposite of SJ13 in the draft, but the only receiver worth taking 10th overall is Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon . Unfortunately Blackmon will be long gone by the time Buffalo picks, so the team will have to decide if wide receiver is critical enough to address in the first round. The team is honestly better off trying to grab Baylor’s Kendall Wright in the second round or Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu in the third, both of which are examples of better value picks then McShay’s earlier projection of Floyd.
Regardless of whom the team decides to start on the other side of their returning star, they need to find someone reliable. Buffalo will not be able to compete against the strong cornerbacks in the AFC East with either David Clowney or David Nelson as their number two receiver; a situation that painfully reminds Bills’ fans of the years of mediocrity from Josh Reed. The teams that are being successful recently in the NFL have had multiple receiving options. The B-lo faithful have been suffering without a playoff appearance since 1999, and if Buffalo want to get back to the big show, then they will need to grab at least one more reliable option at the “pre-madonna” position.