Bills: State of the WR Position

The Buffalo Bills have a true No. 1 wide receiver in Sammy Watkins and a solid second receiver in Robert Woods. However, there's not much behind this duo. The team also lacks a veteran presence a the position. Currently, here's a look at Buffalo's wide receivers.

The Buffalo Bills have a talented 1-2 combination at wide receiver, but there is a lack of depth behind the duo. Currently, the Bills have six wide receivers under contract. Chris Hogan, an exclusive rights free agent, will also most likely return to the team. Depth isn’t the only concern as the current unit is also very young. Adding a veteran presence to mentor the receivers is certainly something the Bills should consider in 2015. Here’s a look at the current receivers under contract for 2015.

Sammy Watkins

2014 Snapshot: 65 receptions, 982 yards, 6 TD

Yes, the 2014 draft class was deep at wide receiver and there were plenty of players that the Bills could have taken in Round 1 or 2 who could have contributed. That said, the Bills were able to get their No. 1 overall prospect in the 2014 NFL draft. For that, no one should complain. Since 1999, the Bills have never made the playoffs. Simply put, they’ve been a bad football team, but never bad enough to draft the top prospect in the draft. Last year, the team made a move to do so, and no one should hold that against the Bills.

Watkins set team records in receptions and yards in 2014. He did so while battling rib and hamstring injuries. Besides his actual stats, Watkins played a big role in various wins during the season. In a Week 2 victory over the Dolphins, Watkins shredded Miami’s secondary for 117 yards on 8 receptions. Against the Lions, Watkins batted a poor pass to himself for a 20 yard gain that set up Dan Carpenter’s game-winning 58 yard field goal. Two weeks later, Watkins went over 100 yards receiving against the Vikings and caught the game-winning touchdown with two seconds remaining in the game. In a blowout of the Jets, Watkins caught three passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. Of Buffalo’s nine victories, Watkins certainly played a big role in four of them. Not bad for a rookie.

Watkins will only get better with time and better quarterback play.

Robert Woods

2014 Snapshot: 65 receptions, 699 yards, 5 TD

Robert Woods benefitted from having Watkins across from him in 2014. In his second season, Woods caught 25 more passes than his rookie season. He also gained 112 more yards in year two.

Woods is a solid No. 2 wide receiver. He’s consistent and he’ll make tough catches, but he’s not explosive like Watkins. Woods would benefit from playing out of the slot, but currently there’s no other receiver that the Bills can consistently place on the outside besides Woods.

Chris Hogan (ERFA)

2014 Snapshot: 41 receptions, 426 yards, 4 TD

It’d be a surprise if Hogan didn’t return to the Bills in 2015. He’s a steady and reliable wide receiver. Ideally, you’d like Hogan to be your fourth wide receiver, but he can play. Hogan has terrific hands and will catch most passes thrown his way. Hogan is not explosive by any means and he’s best in the slot. In 2015, Hogan would be terrific spelling Woods out of the slot if the team adds another wide receiver.

 

Marquise Goodwin

2014 Snapshot: 1 reception, 42 yards

The 2014 season was a disappointing one for Goodwin. The receiver battled injuries and seemed to be in Doug Marrone’s dog house. In 10 games played, Goodwin saw a total of 91 snaps. Goodwin will get more of an opportunity under Rex Ryan.

While Goodwin will get a fresh start with the new coaching staff, he hasn’t shown any route running ability. Goodwin is a guy who specializes in running go-routes. While he should improve upon his 2014 stats easily, he’s not a receiver the Bills can depend upon in their top four receivers.

 

Marcus Thigpen (RFA)

2014 Snapshot: No receiving stats

Thigpen is listed as a wide receiver on the team’s website, but he’s a returner. Nothing more, nothing less. He played very well as a return man with the Bills, but no one should expect him to contribute as a receiver if he returns in 2015.

Justin Brown

2014 Snapshot: 12 receptions, 94 yards

The Bills claimed Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was a sixth round pick of the team in 2013 and saw significant snaps early in the 2014 season for Pittsburgh. Brown played 285 snaps over the first six weeks of the season but then fell down the team’s depth chart.

Brown has talent and could be a pleasant surprise in 2015, but he’s certainly not someone the Bills should depend upon. Right now, Brown is simply a guy who will be fighting for a roster spot. Brown has his size working in his favor, as he’s 6’3.”

Deonte Thompson

2014 Snapshot: No receiving stats

Buffalo signed Thompson off of the Ravens’ practice squad this season. He was active for one game this season but only played two snaps. Thompson has 15 receptions for 147 yards in his career. Much like Brown, Thompson will be fighting for a roster spot.


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