The Buffalo Bills were thin at wide receiver last season, and it was a point of emphasis for the Bills in the offseason. They used two picks in the first three rounds on receivers and brought in a few other low-cost options to round out the roster. Here is how I see things shaking out on cut day tomorrow:
Starters: Steve Johnson and Robert Woods
Johnson was obviously the no-brainer of the bunch. He has 249 catches and 25 touchdowns in his five years in Buffalo, and has turned into one of the best route runners in the game. He does not have blazing speed, but he’s good in the open field and regularly beats cornerbacks in one-on-one coverage. If other teams cheat a safety towards Johnson, then the Bills can use one of their young speedy receivers to go over the top.
Woods is a rookie that’s actually similar to Johnson in his game. He’s a plus route runner and has deceptive speed when he gets in the open. He may have the best hands on the whole team. He should be able to produce from day one after spending his college years in a pro-style up-tempo offense similar to the one new Bills OC Nathaniel Hackett expects to employ.
Third and fourth guys: T.J. Graham & Marquise Goodwin
Graham will likely be the third receiver for the Bills. He had a decent rookie year with 31 catches for 322 yards and a TD last season. With E.J. Manuel at QB, expect his speed to be utilized more than it was last season.
Goodwin is a rookie out of Texas and the other speedster. He’ll be the primary kick returner where he has flourished in the preseason, as well as serving as a fourth option for Manuel. He can get down the field in a hurry. You’ll always need to keep an eye on Goodwin when he’s on the field.
The last two: Chris Hogan & Marcus Easley
I thought the Bills might keep seven receivers, but injuries at QB and CB make that unlikely. Hogan has become a favorite of the staff and has played the most significant minutes of any WR outside of the top four in preseason.
The last one is a tough one. Easley may have gotten a stay of execution with a 79-yard TD catch in the final preseason game. He’s a big target with speed, but he has yet to catch a pass since the Bills drafted him in the third round four years ago, and has only been active for three games in his career. I think he gets one more chance under the new regime.
Cuts: Dorin Dickerson, Brandon Kaufman, Brad Smith
The biggest name here is Smith. Although he took a pay cut to stick, I don’t see where he fits on this team. They don’t need him for the wildcat anymore, and the younger receivers are just better. Dickerson showed some flashes last year, but he’s a hybrid TE/WR type and I just think the options above him are better at both positions.