From the 2013 roster to the one the Buffalo Bills have in 2014, perhaps no other position saw more changes than what the team did with the wide receiver group. They drafted another player at the position, traded for a veteran, traded away a veteran and brought in a lot of bottom of the roster players they’re going to kick the tires on.
With likely six spots up for grabs, wide receiver is usually one of the more compelling positions to watch as training camp rolls along. How does the current roster shake out, and who needs to fight? That's the next destination of the camp primer series.
The Starters (2) Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods
- When the Bills sent away their first round pick in 2015 to move up to take Watkins, there was little doubt that he would step in right away and be not only the team’s starter, but their top wideout. His blend of explosiveness, hands and physicality make him a rare find from a talent perspective, so expect the Bills to have him on the field in bunches. He’ll pair with Robert Woods in sets with only two wide receivers in hopes that they form a very dynamic duo. The Bills are still very high on Woods, believing that he is as good of a number two target as they can find.
The Depth (2) Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin
- When the Bills go to three wide receiver sets, expect to see Williams trot on to the field. They view him as a potential instant contributor, and someone that could help EJ Manuel in both the red zone and as a player with high pointing ability on all areas of the field. Goodwin will be the change of pace wide receiver just as he was last year when healthy. Both Williams and Goodwin are likely locks for the final 53-man roster, as long as the former doesn’t give the Bills an off-the-field reason to part ways with him.
The Bubble (5) Marcus Easley, Kevin Elliott, T.J. Graham, Chris Hogan, Cordell Roberson
- It will likely be five players for two spots in this bubble grouping. The standout amongst the five players is the former third-round pick Graham, who has failed to grasp on to ample opportunities since being selected by the team. He will be facing a training camp where he must show improvement not only as a receiver, but as someone that can chip in on special teams as well. Graham has a lot of work to do to secure a roster spot, especially with players like Easley and Hogan who each played a lot of special teams for the Bills in 2013. Elliott and Roberson are grouped together as two taller targets for EJ Manuel, and represent what the Bills have been trying to find in the offseason. Through the offseason workouts, Hogan is having the best 2014 to date. However, there’s still a long way to go between now and the beginning of September when the real decisions have to be made.
The Longshots (3) Ramses Barden, Caleb Holley, Chris Summers
- Most will recognize Barden’s name for being a former third-round pick of the New York Giants in 2009. He failed to latch on with them and then signed a contract with Buffalo in January in hopes to revive his career. The 6-foot-6 wide receiver is hard to miss on the field, but easily hideable in drills during offseason workouts. The same goes for Summers, who is a 6-foot-5 former small school (Liberty) receiver. Holley found his way on the roster after a successful tryout during the Bills’ rookie minicamp, but faces an uphill battle to even get into bubble status.
When the Bills are in a 2 WR set I expect to see Williams and Watkins out there. Woods will go to the slot where Goodwin will join them. When Williams is healthy he is a dynamite pro bowl caliber receiver. Unless Woods makes a huge leap or Williams gets into trouble, I expect Williams to play over Woods. Too many W names in this WR corps.
This will be the battles to watch.
it has been a long time to see so much talent at this position. I mean who do you cut or who do you keep. I think it will come down to who can produce at the highest level. That means when that ball comes your way. You better find some way to catch it period. And their should not be a knock on tj. Not when we were almost playing with a new qb every game. But for me I think he will make the team because of his speed. Remember speed kills in this league.