Bills top wide out Stevie Johnson had a performance to forget on...
DJ’s Chalk Talk: Bills Wide Receiver Battle
Welcome to DJ’s Chalk Talk, a place where we look at the offensive side of the ball and focus on strategy and predictions for the Buffalo Bills throughout the season. With my inaugural “DJ’s Chalk Talk,” we begin with an analysis of the Bills wide receiving corps going into training camp, and what I think the outcome will be. This may not be the most popular position battle in camp, but it will be the most interesting one.
*Hint: Undrafted Free Agent Da’Rick Rogers will play a bigger role than people expect.
No. 1 WR – Robert Woods
For those of you who are wondering where Stevie Johnson (SJ13) is, there’s no need to panic. Johnson is still the top receiver in this offense and at times will play on the outside as well. Woods entered the draft as one of the most polished outside wide receivers in the draft class, so for him to fall to Buffalo in the early 2nd Round was huge.
The former Trojan can easily step in to the role that Buffalo ownership has been trying to find for the past past three seasons: a wide receiver to pair with SJ13. Woods was able to put up double digit touchdown receptions the past two seasons, even with Marquise Lee lining up on the other side of the field. He would have been a first round draft pick in April if it had not been for the fact that the USC offensive playbook was centered around Lee. A talent like Woods is hard to come by for a receiver right out of college, and his presence will be felt in the Bills’ offense immediately.
No 2. WR – Da’ Rick Rogers
Hear me out. Off-the-field issues aside, Da’Rick Rogers can flat out play football. Period. We learned in OTAs that Rogers caught a ball over Bills cornerback Ron Brooks and stood over him, which would have resulted in a 15 yard penalty. Coach Marrone quickly came to Rogers and game him an earful. Rogers said he meant nothing by it, that he was just trying to have fun (which I believe). Either way, this type of behavior cannot continue if Rogers wants to make this team.
All that aside, Rogers has the capabilities to be a great wide receiver in this league. He’s 6’3″ 215 and was an All-SEC receiver at Tennessee as a sophomore in 2011, before being dismissed from the team and transferring to Tennessee Tech. When Rogers arrived at TTU his play-making abilities continued without much of a dip, averaging 89.3 receiving yards a game and 10 touchdowns. It was clear that the troubled wide out did not play down to his competition at the smaller school. If Rogers can keep his mind on the game, he has a bright future in this league. Da’Rick Rogers will be this year’s Vontaze Burfict.
No. 3 WR – Brad Smith
Brad Smith finally has a defined position as a Buffalo Bill; wide receiver. Smith has spent two years in the Bills organization and has flipped from wide receiver, to wildcat quarterback, to wide receiver, to kick returner, to various positions on the kick coverage unit, and finally back to wide receiver. Now of course that doesn’t mean he won’t still play special teams, but Smith finally has home with the Bills.
Is Brad Smith going to be a worth fantasy draft pick this year? Or make the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver? Probably not. That doesn’t mean he won’t play an important role on this team. Smith is a great leader for the Bills and a player all the newcomers in the receiving unit can learn from.
No. 1 Slot Receiver – Stevie Johnson
No, the fact that Stevie Johnson is transitioning to a slot receiver does not mean he is getting a demotion. SJ13 is still the best receiver on this team and one of the most underrated wide outs in the league.
Ever since December there had been talks of transitioning Stevie into a slot receiver type position, and with the new coaching staff it seems as though this idea is finally beginning to blossom. Johnson moving to the slot is only going to better his career. It’s no secret that Johnson doesn’t have much top-end speed, but he does have some of the best route running skills in the entire league. Watching Johnson shake-and-bake defenders is one of the highlights of every Bills game. By the way, Johnson is the only resident on Revis Island and there is a reason for that.
Don’t be surprised when Stevie puts up a fourth straight season 1,000-plus yards and finally gets his well deserved Pro Bowl nod.
No. 2 Slot Receiver – Marquise Goodwin
Marquise Goodwin has taken the NFL by storm ever since draft night with the wonderful story about the special connection he has with his sister.
Goodwin may not be the favorite for the second slot position going into camp, but he will take it from T.J. Graham by the end of it. Goodwin was an Olympic athlete this past summer in the long jump and wowed scouts at the combine with his speed, impressing Bills scouts enough to get drafted in the third round.
No, Goodwin didn’t rack up a ton of yards and touchdowns while he was at Texas, but what he has in his favor is one of a kind speed. Goodwin has the top end speed to blow by a lot of nickel corners in this league. It’s a sure bet you’ll see a couple SportsCenter Top 10 Plays from this guy this season.
Other Wide Receivers:
Out of this trio, Graham may be the most recognizable name. Graham was drafted last year and never quite made a name for himself. He dropped a lot of footballs which may not stick well for Bills fans. Luckily for Graham, he like Goodwin, has great top-end speed and may make the 53-man roster.
There’s a reason the Bills have kept this wide out around for so long after all the injury plagued seasons. He was drafted in 2010, and has yet to catch a NFL pass. There’s something Buffalo front office is keeping from us about this wide out and I can’t wait to find out.
This undrafted rookie is quite the prospect. He’s 6’5″ 215 lbs with a great frame and hands. He draws similarities to former fan favorite David Nelson. Out of the trio, Kaufman has the least shot to make the 53-man roster. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a future with the Bills. He might just have to spend a season with the Practice Squad first.
Provocative stuff DJ! Stick around for DJ’s Chalk Talk Wednesdays and follow @Buddy Nixon on Twitter for more hard hitting analysis.