Look for an influx of talent at the wide receiver spot for the Buffalo Bills this offseason. And look for the early rounds of the April draft to provide the best opportunity to upgrade that talent.
Bills GM Buddy Nix has been talking about the need for wide out talent for the last several months. And he has a good idea of the skill set he’s looking for.”
“We want a guy that can go up and snatch the ball, a guy that he’s open when he’s covered,” Nix says. “We want to see if he’ll go up and high-point the ball, and get it.”
There’s a solid corps of wide receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine who look like they could fit the bill for the Bills.
It starts with Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who caught 46 passes, five of them for touchdowns, last year. Patterson has a good idea of the skill set he can bring to an NFL roster.
“Speed, catching, and scoring,” he told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. “The things I did in college. I expect to come here next year as a rookie, and be a good rookie--a Pro Bowler.”
The biggest question mark about Patterson deals with his inexperience. He only played one year at Tennessee, transferring from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College after two years there. He left Tennessee after one year, saying the dismissal of Head Coach Derek Dooley drove him away. But Patterson is happy with the one-year body of work he put up at Tennessee, saying he exceeded his own expectations.
“When I went to Tennessee, I didn’t even think I was going to be a starter,” he said. “But I went in, some things happen, a receiver got kicked out, people started expected big things from me. I had to fill that role. It seems like I always have people expect big things from me, but I try not to pay that any attention. I try to go in and do my best and I expect big things out of myself.”
Many draft experts have linked Patterson to the Bills in the first round, where Buffalo drafts eighth overall.
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Patterson’s Tennessee teammate, wide receiver Justin Hunter, is also expected to be a premium receiver, with first to second round grades. He’s 6-4, 196 pounds, and he’s got great speed. Hunter and the rest of the receivers will run the 40-yard dash on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium later Sunday, but he’s already got a target in mind for his time.
“"Anything in the 4.3s, at least. If I get a 4.2, I'll be happy," he said. And Hunter expects a good showing at the combine to push him up into the first round.
“"I think it will boost my draft stock, definitely,” he said. “I'm going to go out there and work my hardest, try to beat everybody in every event. We're going to see where it takes me."
Like Patterson and Hunter, Cal’s Keenan Allen is another junior eligible wide receiver with the right kind of size-speed combination teams like the Bills covet. And Allen has a message he wants to deliver to NFL coaches at the combine this week.
“That I'm a starter. I feel like I'm a starter, self-motivated, a humble guy. My work ethic is there. I'm a film junkie so I'm definitely doing that type of preparation for the game,” he said.
Baylor’s Terrance Williams projects as more of an outside threat at the wide receiver spot. And he stayed with the Bears for his senior season, managing to put up tremendous numbers: 97 catches, averaging 18.9 yards per catch, with 12 touchdowns.
Williams made staying at Baylor for his senior year a priority.
“It was very good,” he told reporters at the Combine. “My mom wanted me to finish school. I needed to be more consistent than last year. And I got better week by week. I was more consistent catching the ball and being a playmaker.”
With the release of Donald Jones and other possible moves in the next few months, receiver help is shaping up as a critical need for the Bills in the draft. There should be no shortage of premium wide out options in the early rounds.