Breaking down the Bills depth at Wide Reciever

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Here it is, my first NFL article. Due to it being in the middle of training camp, why not take a look at some of the most intriguing and over looked camp battles. When people think of the Buffalo Bills, they think sheer mediocrity and most notably a poor passing game. Sure the team has had Stevie Johnson, who despite being a head case has been a reliable receiver. But for years, Buffalo has had question at the WR positon and at QB. This season the team went all out, to briefly explain what they did about the QB position, they drafted QB EJ Manuel in the first round with the 16th pick and signed QB Kevin Kolb to a two year $6M deal worth a max of $13M through incentives. Kolb is actually coming off a decent year, Arizona had terrible QB play throughout the season, but Kolb had a passer rating of 86.1 with an 8 TD to 3 int ratio. He played in six games and was responsible for four of the team’s five wins (including a miracle win over New England). He led the team in passing yards but noting his competition that doesn’t tell us much. For Kolb’s career he’s been a mediocre QB who was vastly overrated while in Philly. Manuel on the other hand, was considered a reach at 16 but he is very athletic and strong with good touch on his throws and an NFL arm with a quick release. His biggest knock is consistency and poor ball security. So far in camp, Kolb has been taking more first team reps due to experience but he has been terrible via reports (nothing new here). Manuel on the other hand has been impressive, Peter King of Sports Illustrated said he looked “comfortable, confident, strong-armed and accurate.” Trust me, I’d be the last person to say Manuel should start out of the books, I think he’s raw but I really like his potential and I think if he was in a situation where he could learn and develop he could turn out to be a great QB, but if Kolb is that bad (which he is) the Bills have no choice. Luckily, Manuel is looking good and HC Doug Marrone said he wants  the offense to be “fun and fast”. Manuel certainly fits that category.  Now too look at the WRs. The incumbent starters are Stevie Johnson, coming off three straight 1000 yard seasons (keep in mind Ryan Fitzpatrick was hoisting him the ball), and TJ Graham, who was the teams third round pick last year and has been a standout thus far in the offeseason. Stevie’s job seems safe, but as good as Graham has been doing (he has also bulked up this offseason) he has some serious competition. The Bills drafted two wide receivers in the draft. Robert Woods in the second round (41st overall) and Marquise Goodwin in the third (78th overall). Both are nice prospects. Woods was a great WR in college who was overshadowed by Marquise Lee his senior year. In fact, some say Woods may very well be the best WR out of this years class when it’s all said and done.  Yes, Robert Woods has injury issues, but he also is a good route runner with great hands, decent speed, and the ability to separate. Not to mention he has a high football IQ. There aren’t many things Woods does wrong. He has great burst, big play ability, and is a good down field blocker. His only weakness is strength, something that can easily be fixed. Marquise Goodwin on the other hand is a vertical threat on any play. He ran an official 4.27 40 at the combine and an unofficial of 4.17! Those numbers are crazy, if I had to compare Marquise Goodwin to any NFL player, it would be Mike Wallace. Although he’s not perfect and overrated players like him are good weapons to have. He’s an Olympic track athlete as well. Goodwin relies on pure speed to get open and he can create nightmare matchups in the slot. He’s not afraid to go over the middle and his quick agility makes him a threat to take it to the house on any play, which makes him a great return man. His only concerns are lack of size and route running. Already you see the competition. Woods and Graham are currently battling it out for the spot opposite of Stevie Johnson. Both are doing good, Woods has been labeled a “stud”by Kevin Kolb and others. I see Woods ultimately taking this one. Now, TJ Graham has to win the slot job against Marquise Goodwin. Graham’s game is similar to Goodwin’s, he is an all out speedster with raw skills. He’s put a lot of work into his game however this off season. All three of these guys have been getting first team reps. My favorite WR prospect on their team is UDFA Da’Rick Rogers.  Rogers was one of my favorite heading into the draft and he went undrafted due to attitude problems and other off field. Still, he was a beast at Texas and was considered one of the top WR prospects. After failing three drug test, he was kicked off the team and went to Tennessee Tech, where he was a man among boys and completely dominated. Rogers is a physical specimen, he had arguably the best combine performances finishing in the top five in several categories, including the 3 cone drill, the 20-yard shuttle, the 60-yard shuttle, the vertical jump, and the broad jump. Both Rogers and I agree he was the steal of the draft. Even with his maturity issues and question marks, he was still considered a 3rd-5th round prospect at worst. This is a low risk high reward move by Buffalo and it’s already paying off. Rogers has taken snaps with the first team and is generating buzz, as I expected. Couch Doug Marrone isn’t cutting Rogers any slack. He knows he needs to be up in his grill constantly, or Rogers can fall apart. The last thing they want is Titus Young 2. Rogers has been a standout all off season, similar to Graham and Woods. Marrone recently stated Rogers has “stepped it up”, he needs to stay motivated too stay out of trouble and improve upon his game. The only notable WR on the Bills not making noise is Brad Smith, and that’s for obvious reasons. Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, TJ Graham, Marquise Goodwin, and Da’Rick Rogers is definitely a solid core. There is a lot of talent within these guys and their athleticism can create mismatches down the stretch. EJ Manuel will most likely take the starting job, and he has some nice young pieces to work with

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