Buffalo's personnel department and coaching staff were clear that adding speed was a priority in the draft no matter the position. Second-round pick Robert Woods and fourth-round pick Marquise Goodwin certainly provide vertical threats, but there's something else the two rookie wideouts bring to the table.
"We also wanted to bring toughness to this team too," said Bills GM Buddy Nix. "I think we did that some. I think these guys are competitors that'll play hard and bring some toughness to us."
Nix and the scouting department loved the way Woods would pop up after taking licks and wasn't afraid to go over the middle. With Goodwin it was his willingness to be physical despite his smaller stature.
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"One of the things in the report about Marquise that jumps out at you, a guy his size, is he's a tenacious blocker," said Nix. "He's a tough guy. He's a football player first even though he's had all that success in track. I think when you see him play you'll realize he's a football player."
"People definitely underestimate me as a complete football player. They just think I'm some fast guy that went to the Olympics," Goodwin said. "That's definitely not the case."
Taking two receivers in the draft was considered a possibility for Buffalo even when they had just six picks prior to the trade with St. Louis, knowing what left in free agency.
"Our numbers were pretty low at that position," said head coach Doug Marrone. "What we have here, Stevie Johnson is a known commodity in the NFL and has proven himself year in and year out. T.J. Graham is someone we drafted a year before, but we really feel good about. Brad Smith was outstanding during our minicamp so we're excited. A lot of our other receivers have not been out there a lot and there weren't many of them. And obviously we lost some. So to get our numbers back up at that position was important to our team."
Woods (4.43 40-time) is expected to contribute right away after a three-year college career that had him in a primary role from almost start to finish.
"One of the leading lines on the reports on him was he was the most NFL ready of any of them," Nix said. "And I expect that's right."
Coming from a West Coast system at USC, Woods feels he can hit the ground running with the scheme being installed in Buffalo.
"I'd say it's a perfect fit going to that offense," said Woods. "We're going to have a great scheme with these coaches. Just having a history of the West Coast offense and going into this the only thing that's going to change really is the terminology. I'm looking forward to playing in it. I know it's going to be a fast offense."
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Coming down to the pick of Goodwin in round three Nix told Buffalobills.com that they had the diminutive receiver as their top choice. So much so that they weren't swayed when presented with offers to trade down.
"We did have offers, but we had this guy kind of in our sights and we felt like he would fit what we needed and make it where you can play him in the slot, play him outside and play Stevie in either place," said Nix. "We felt like we needed that speed and we had him targeted."
Goodwin (4.27 40-time), in Nix's opinion, just needs more reps having missed spring practices for four years at Texas due to track. Marrone made it sound like the threat of Goodwin's speed alone is likely to get him on the field in some capacity on offense.
"You're going to have to be able to take the top off of coverages," said Marrone. "You have to line up and have opponents say, 'Gosh these guys can run by me.' If not they're going to be able to cover you up really well. We wanted to make sure that we had that good balance of speed on the field and he provides that."
The Bills' sideline boss even shared the opinion that Goodwin shares similar physical traits to that of St. Louis rookie Tavon Austin.
"I had watched a lot of tape and there was another receiver that was taken first in the draft that has outstanding ability, and I felt Goodwin possesses a lot of those same traits with the same speed and toughness," said Marrone. "When you get a player with that type of speed then it's up to us as coaches to develop him and be able to get him the football."
Their roles figure to be different in their rookies seasons, but both Woods and Goodwin have bolstered a receiving corps that needed an influx of talent.
"I told you earlier we were going to take one and we might take two receivers," said Nix. "I think picking up the other two picks and having the eight picks gave us a chance to take the best guys on the board and these guys were the most explosive players on the board."