Bills GM Buddy Nix has always been straightforward with Buffalo's need for a wide receiver. Nix has made it clear that the Bills wanted a receiver who is NFL ready and "is open even when he's not."
With the 41st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft the Bills found their man in Robert Woods, wide receiver from USC.
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The Bills spoke highly of Woods before the draft and described him as one of the most NFL ready receivers in this year's draft, with Bills scout Brad Forsyth calling him "as polished a receiver as I've seen in a while." Nix affirmed that belief Friday following Woods' selection.
"One of the leading lines on the reports on him is he was the most NFL ready of any of [the receivers] and I expect that's right," said Nix.
Woods is undeniably an explosive talent, as he finished the 2012 season with 76 receptions for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns. Bills fans looking for a window into Woods' true potential can look no further than his 2011 statistics. That year, Woods finished the season with 111 receptions for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns, and was a consensus first-team All-American.
Bills head coach Doug Marrone was a firsthand witness to Woods' ability to take over a game. Last fall, Woods led USC with 10 receptions for 93 yards and two touchdowns against Marrone's Syracuse, and he also rattled off a 76-yard run.
At 6'0" Woods is no giant, but Bills scouts are confident he can work in a crowd.
"I don't have any issues with that," explained Forsyth. "He's not small and he's not the 6'2" or 6'3" guy either. He's six-foot with a strong build and he's added good weight to him the last couple of years. He's a guy that will go up and compete for it."
In other words—or Nix's words—Woods "is open even when he's not."
In Woods' eyes, fighting in a crowd is what being a wide receiver is all about.
"It comes with the position," said Woods. "Sometimes you've got to make challenging catches. I mean that's the receiver position, that's what we're supposed to do. If the ball's in the air, it's our ball."
Woods knows the task will be far more difficult given the talent of NFL defensive backs, but his confidence is unshaken.
"It comes with the territory," said Woods. "I know coming to the NFL [you're] playing some bigger and better corners. Like I said, it comes with the territory. I'm ready and willing to go against each and every corner in the league."
With the loss of Donald Jones and David Nelson, the Bills have openings behind undisputed number one Stevie Johnson. Woods admits to knowing little about the Bills receivers, but he should plug right in on the outside as a compliment to Johnson.
Woods will likely have no difficulty gaining comfort with the receiving corps, and he already has experience with Bills first round pick, quarterback EJ Manuel.
"It's kind of funny because when [Manuel] got drafted to the Bills I gave him a shout out," explained Woods. " It was one of those things where I've seen him on trips. I went to Dallas for kind of like an All-Star skills challenge. We've built a relationship and now we can grow it even more."
The potential 1-2 punch is a salivating prospect for fans, and Marrone can see the possibilities.
"When I look at offense, I try to look at playmakers; people that can make plays, people that can be productive," said Marrone. "The whole thing in this league is how are you going to score. I think that's what we're always looking for on the offensive side of the ball, people that can make plays and we feel that [EJ and Robert] can do that."
With this latest addition, the Bills offense continues to take the form of a high-powered, fast-paced entity, and Woods is ecstatic to be a part in the machine.
"I can't wait to catch that first pass in the NFL level," said Woods. "I'm just looking forward to being out there and making plays for the Bills."
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