Derek Hagan probably entered training camp on the outside looking in as far as a spot on the 53 man roster was concerned. But a solid camp has likely elevated him, at the very least, to “on the bubble” if not the front runner for the final spot in the wide receivers group.
The 27 year old Hagan has been pretty consistent when it comes to getting open and catching the ball. He had a highlight reel catch during Monday’s practice leaping up over double coverage to reel in a downfield throw from Tyler Thigpen.
Claimed off waivers by the Bills last season, Hagan played in the final four games and had 12 catches with one touchdown. His best game came at New England when he caught seven balls for 89 yards.
He’s right in the thick of a numbers battle at wide receiver. You can lock in Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, Donald Jones and T.J. Graham for four of the spots. The question is do the Bills keep five or six at that position? Remember, Brad Smith can be on the roster as the third quarterback but he can also play wide receiver as can C.J. Spiller if there is a run of injuries like last season.
“From a competition standpoint, its very healthy” Hagan said during an interview on WGR. “ We got a bunch of guys that can pretty much do the same thing but we know deep down it’s a competition. Guys are trying to help each other but at the same time we know there are spots open and it pretty much comes down to who’s working hard, who’s doing the right thing, who’s catching the ball and who’s getting open. That’s who’s going to win the job.”
Hagan is fighting for a spot along with Naaman Roosevelt, Marcus Easley, Ruvell Martin, David Clowney, Kamar Aiken and Derek Session.
You can see that Hagan, who left Arizona State in 2006 as the Pac-10’s all time leading receiver and a two time All American, is building some chemistry with Ryan Fitzpatrick and that too will be a factor in whether or not Hagan makes the roster.
“When I first came in he didn’t know me, now we’re getting the time” Hagan said. “It really helped when Stevie(Johnson) was out in the off season just getting on the same page with him(Fitzpatrick) and having him get the trust factor with myself. Hopefully all the hard work will pay off when the regular season gets going.
You can listen to the entire interview with Derek Hagan: