(WGR 550) -- With such a premium put on the passing game in the National Football League, trying to find the next big thing as a playmaking, wide receiver is all the rage.
Unless your team has copious amounts of cap room to spend on a proven target, the draft is the likeliest of destinations that a franchise will look to in the attempt to find a good target for their quarterback.
The Buffalo Bills, of course, are in that mold as well. Currently with only three players on their active roster at the position that started the season on the 53-man list, the Bills need to add both starters and depth.
Who might they be looking at throughout the draft process? Here's a look at how I rank the Top 20 in 2013.
1) Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (6'17/8", 216)
- If you're looking for an explosive athlete that has the size to go along with it, look no further than Cordarrelle Patterson. With his body, Patterson has the size to go up and make the tough catches, as well as be physical both during and after the catch. His speed (4.42) for his size also makes him very intriguing, but it's his ability in the open field that makes your jaw drop. Patterson's biggest knock is having only the one season at Tennessee, so he's not a fully polished wideout just yet. However, when you see that kind of talent, a player like that doesn't last in the draft too long.
2) Tavon Austin, West Virginia (5'81/2", 174)
- Making DeSean Jackson proud is the tiny, albeit explosive West Virginia product Tavon Austin. Used both in the backfield and split out, the Mountaineers just hoped to get him in to open space and watch him go. Once he's there… look out. 4.34 speed.
3) Keenan Allen, Cal (6'21/8", 206)
- Keenan Allen a classic go-up-and-get-it type of player. He can make the tough, contested catch and probably could have challenged for being the top wideout selected had he been supported with better quarterback play. He didn't run at the Combine, allowing some others to shine without him being able to do anything.
4) DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (6'1", 214)
- Not looking at measurables before I watch their footage, I was shocked that Hopkins was only 6-foot-1. He plays much bigger than that, able to make a physical and contested catch. The speed on Hopkins isn't great (4.57), but his route running makes up for that. Deceptive in his moves, he can gain the separation necessary in the NFL.
5) Terrance Williams, Baylor (6'2", 208)
- When watching Terrance Williams, the one word that keeps coming to mind is "smooth." Possessing very good body control, Williams can make some big catches. He doesn't have the elite, breakaway speed in the NFL (4.52), but has the ability to go up and secure the reception in a big spot.
6) Justin Hunter, Tennessee (6'35/8", 196)
- A frame with room to grow, Justin Hunter has the body and speed some teams covet. He can go up and high point the ball, but the weight is a concern especially at the line of scrimmage. Tyler Bray looked his way a lot for the Volunteers. The team that drafts him will want to get him in the weight room and on a weight-gaining diet because he has the frame to be a monster.
7) Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (6'01/2", 194)
- Deceptive in how quick he really is, Kenny Still shocked some by busting out a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Stills has the ability to make tough catches and has very good stop-and-start ability in both routes and after the catch. He'll lose concentration from time-to-time, but I think Stills can be a solid receiver in this league.
8) Robert Woods, USC (6'03/8", 201)
- When watching Robert Woods from 2012, all his mannerisms on the field reminded me of one name: Stevie Johnson. His receiver stance is near the same, his feistiness after the catch is evident, even the way he runs. The two stark differences: For one, Woods is faster than Stevie Johnson and secondly, Woods' moves to get open are not up to Johnson's level. He plays faster than his time (4.51) indicates.
9) Markus Wheaton, Oregon State (5'11", 189)
- One thing is evident with Markus Wheaton, you better not blink because he'll be around you when you open the eyes back up. Possessing solid moves at the line of scrimmage, it's also Wheaton's in-game speed that stands out. He's another 'look out' type when he gets in to the open-field. A little smaller than you would like for an outside receiver, though.
10) Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech (6'0", 204)
- Although his statistics are a product of an extremely pass-happy offense, Patton has NFL talent. He's got a solid set of hands, and uses them to make contested catches. Texas A&M couldn't contain him when the two teams met this past season. Not an explosive athlete, Patton looks to be the possession type.
11) Chris Harper, Kansas State (6'03/4", 229)
- With how well Anquan Boldin has played for such a long period of time, highlighted for his specific brand of physical wideout play, teams are looking for the next in his mold. Meet Kansas State's Chris Harper. Harper is a solid hands catcher that uses his big mitts (93/4") to bring in tough catches. Very Boldin like in this respect, too, he's very physical and has the frame to match. He had to deal with some rather erratic passing at times, which made him visibly frustrated. I'm interested to see how he does with a much better player at that position.
12) Stedman Bailey, West Virginia (5'101/4", 193)
- Talk about a big set of hands on Harper, the smaller Stedman Bailey even has him beat in that measurement (97/8"). Bailey is the less heralded of the two West Virginia wideouts, but is a solid prospect in his own right. His 4.52 40-yard dash was a bit disappointing, considering that he looks faster during games.
13) Ryan Swope, Texas A&M (6'01/8", 205)
- With his quickness and speed, Ryan Swope's best position in the NFL might be residing in the slot. He's a very good route runner and backs that up with solid hands. Teams looking for that weapon in the slot could take him a bit higher than some of the other players I've already listed. Swope put a lot of people on alert by running a 4.34 40-yard dash.
14) Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech (6'21/2", 217)
- It's hard to ignore Da'Rick Rogers' size, physicality and toughness. It's also hard to ignore his fall from grace at Tennessee and his lack of speed when watching his footage. Rogers may not possess the speed or explosiveness that some do, but he can break some tackles and get solid yardage after the catch. This was a former 1st-2nd round prospect that may end up going in the middle rounds. Someone will give him a shot with his raw abilities.
15) Mark Harrison, Rutgers (6'27/8", 231)
- Everyone loves a sleeper, and Mark Harrison is just that. Not overly deceptive in his route running, Harrison also has to work on his hands. However, his size and speed (4.46) make you drool a bit. He makes the field look small when he's running at full speed. There are some genuine questions about the nuts and bolts of his game as a receiver, but, he's an athletic freak. I wouldn't be shocked to see him go fairly early in the draft.
16) Aaron Dobson, Marshall (6'25/8", 210)
- Having the size at wide receiver that not many cornerbacks in Conference USA can deal with, Dobson shined for Marshall. Has the frame teams covet in a wide receiver, but like most bigger receivers, he'll struggle with separation in the NFL in the early going. It's how he adjusts to life where everyone is on the same level of talent.
17) Marquess Wilson, Washington State (6'25/8", 194)
- With the way his time at Washington State ended, that will be an obvious talking point for most teams. So should be the case for his rather lean frame and lack of concentration at times. However, Wilson has the abilities of a first round pick but is just a bit rough around the edges at this point. If a team can get him a bit stronger and gets his head on straight, this is a player with some big time talent.
18) Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas (6'13/4", 212)
- Cobi Hamilton is shifty in the open field and makes good adjustments to the ball. However, he tends to have a few lapses in concentration, allowing the ball to get in to his pads or drop to the turf completely. Arkansas lined him up everywhere and used him underneath on slants a lot. But can he win the battles on the outside without being a particularly polished route runner? Hamilton has some work to do in that area.
19) Denard Robinson, Michigan (5'101/2", 199)
- There isn't a lot to go on with Robinson outside of the Senior Bowl and at the NFL Combine, but his ability to run with the football has me intrigued. Running faster and measuring bigger than some were expecting, Robinson has the skill-set that will get one team to take a swing on him on Day 2 or early Day 3. He just has to learn all the nuances of the receiver position which will take time, but he'll certainly be the apple of some team's eye in the middle rounds.
20) Tavarres King, Georgia (6'01/4", 189)
- One of Aaron Murray's favorite targets, Tavarres King isn't overly impressive in any one facet of his game. He's got a skinny frame, he body catches from time to time, he'll round his routes at some points, but King continued to be productive in the SEC. That fact cannot be ignored. His 4.47 40-yard dash will help him in the draft.