INDIANAPOLIS - Wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley brought the Buffalo Bills a big increase in offensive production for Josh Allen's second year as the Bills quarterback. John Brown's 72 receptions were the most he posted in his six years in the NFL. Brown and Beasley combined for a totla of 139 receptions. Beasley had a career-best six touchdowns. Brown also set a career-high with 1,060 receiving yards - as he and Beasley combined for 1,838 receiving yards.
This offseason the Bills are looking to add additional firepower offensively to help Brown and Beasley. The 2020 NFL Draft class boasts a large pool of talented wide receivers. With the Bills looking to add more weapons in order to help Allen score more points, wide receiver is a great place to look.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott went back to the basics when talking about what he wants out of any receiver added to the Bills roster this offseason.
"Let's start with a guy that can catch the football," McDermott explained. "That's something I think people look past sometimes, right? Speed. People get enamored with speed and the things that stand out, or will be talked about here in a couple days when these young men run the 40. That's great, but at the end of the day you have to be able to play the position and one of the key elements for playing the wide receiver position is being able to catch the football on a consistent basis. It's that trust with the quarterback that develops because of that and being able to catch the football, that's important."
Buffalo's general manager Brandon Beane is looking for a receiver who can do it all.
"Honestly I'm looking for a good player," Beane explained. "I've said this before, the receiver of all positions probably comes in the Baskin Robbins 31 flavors. Size, speed, length, run after catch, all sorts of variables. There are really small guys that do a lot of the stuff that Isaiah McKenzie does behind the back, you know behind the line of scrimmage. But in all seriousness, this is a deep receiver draft, I think I can say that now."
Several mock drafts have listed names like Clemson's Tee Higgins, Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr, Alabama's Henry Ruggs III among others as prospects who are projected to be drafted by the Bills with the 22nd overall pick. Each receiver believes he brings a different strength to the table whether it's size, speed or toughness.
But the real question is, what do these receivers know about the Buffalo Bills and how would they see themselves fitting in?
LSU's Justin Jefferson has ties to Buffalo being a close friend to LSU alum Tre'Davious White.
"That's one of my favorite corners in the NFL and he has been doing a tremendous job," Jefferson said. "He's definitely one of the best corners in the league. He's one of my close friends. He is friends with my brother, so I was talking to him at the Pro Bowl just talking to him and getting all the information I need for the NFL."
Clemson receiver Tee Higgins, who is one of the tallest receivers in the class, is a favorite to head to Buffalo on several mock drafts. Higgins likes what he sees in the toughness of the Bills, plus the cold doesn't scare him.
"It's a playoff team," Higgins said. "It's real cold up there, but I'm from Tennessee and it gets cold up in Tennessee. It's just a team that's hungry and you can tell they're pushing for a Super Bowl really soon."
Alabama's Henry Ruggs III will be one of the fastest prospects in this year's combine and has a former coach who is currently on Buffalo's staff.
"I know that my old coach Brian Daboll is there, so the system is not going to be too hard to adapt to out there," Ruggs III explained.
The former Alabama wide out says he had a good relationship with Daboll and would be happy to work with him again.
"It was pretty good," Ruggs III said. "I was a guy that had to step into a role as a freshman. I was playing the backup behind Calvin [Ridley] and I was just a guy that whenever he called my number, he knew that I was going to be there and ready to make a play."
One of the bigger receivers in this year's wide receiver class is Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr, Shenault could see himself having a lot of success in Buffalo.
"I see myself being a star, honestly," Shenault explained. "I think I would be able to open up more space and just be able to do things that the other receivers don't do just as far as my size and other things."
Sheanult isn't a stranger to Josh Allen, explaining he watched Allen in the playoff game against the Houston Texans.
"I think he's great," Shenault said. "I was watching his playoff game. I think he's a dog. I think he makes things happen so it would be great to play with a quarterback like that."
Many NFL analysts are taking note of the wide receiver depth, some even think it's so deep that teams might be able to wait till the second day to draft a receiver who can still have a big impact on a team.
"What stands out to me is I'm not sure you have to take one in the first round, which is the weirdest thing," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said. "I almost wonder because there's so much depth and overall talent, if teams who would normally take one of the first round, kind of don't need to. If you're the Bills you're saying we could add an edge presence or we can add a corner. You might spend the capital on another position and then decide we're going to take the best receiver in the second round, knowing that that those receivers are usually in the first round. I'm sure the mocks will have the Bills take a receiver, but I'm not sure it's going to be like that."
Regardless of the elite talent from the class as a whole, just like Beane values developing and keeping players who are on the current roster, he wants to make sure whoever they draft fits in with the pieces already in place.
"I think it will be a very deep position, probably the deepest in the draft," Beane said. "We're not just looking for a certain thing--speed or size, we're looking for good players that we know that will come in and fit alongside what we've already got with John Brown and Cole Beasley and the rest of that group."