Taking a closer look at the Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver position

Oct 29, 2016; Greenville, NC, USA; East Carolina Pirates wide receiver Zay Jones (7) looks on before the game against the Connecticut Huskies at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The East Carolina Pirates defeated the Connecticut Huskies 41-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 29, 2016; Greenville, NC, USA; East Carolina Pirates wide receiver Zay Jones (7) looks on before the game against the Connecticut Huskies at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The East Carolina Pirates defeated the Connecticut Huskies 41-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

BuffaLowDown contributor Cole Shelton takes a look at the Buffalo Bills’ current wide receivers and where they will land come Week 1.

The Buffalo Bills lost a lot of key contributors at the receiver position this off-season, those being Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. It opened up two major roster spots that needed to be addressed this off-season.

And that is exactly what the Buffalo Bills did by drafting a receiver and adding cheap veteran options.

The Bills will head into training camp with Sammy Watkins the clear number one receiver. All the other positions, well they are up for grabs. The big question about the receivers is can Sammy Watkins stay healthy.

Wide Receivers currently on the roster

  • Sammy Watkins
  • Zay Jones
  • Andre Holmes
  • Philly Brown
  • Jeremy Butler
  • Kolby Listenbee
  • Dez Lewis
  • Corey Washington
  • Walter Powell
  • Brandon Tate

Sammy Watkins

Sammy Watkins will enter training camp as the clear-cut number one receiver again, but there is uncertainty with Watkins. The Bills did not pick up his 5th year option and will be a free agent at years end.

The most likely scenario is Watkins re-signs on a short term bridge deal to prove he can be healthy.

Watkins will also have added pressure, with Woods and Goodwin gone. Watkins needs to step up and stay healthy if the Bills want to compete this year.

Sammy Watkins Role: Starting Receiver

Zay Jones

The Buffalo Bills traded up in the 2nd round to select Zay Jones, who should come in and compete for a starting receiver role. Jones comes to the Bills along with his college receiver coach, which should help Jones out.

Jones has very good hands and catches basically everything thrown to him. Although, speed is a knock on Jones, if he can play Robert Woods’ role on the inside and get yards after catch, it will only help the Bills offense.

And, if Jones starts to become a threat as a receiver it will open the field up for Watkins and limit double teams.

Zay Jones Role: Starting Receiver Opposite Sammy Watkins

Andre Holmes

Before the draft, when Holmes signed, he was projected to be the starting receiver opposite Watkins. Now, with the selection of Jones, it appears Holmes will have to fight for that spot.

Holmes is a valuable receiver who won’t see the bulk of throws, but can be a very good red zone receiver. He’s a big body at 6’4″ 210 pounds and can also play up the middle. In the end, Homes’ signing will be a huge one for the depth of the receiver position.

Andre Holmes Role: Starting Receiver/Backup

Philly Brown

Philly Brown was also a free agent signing this off-season and will come in and be a backup receiver. Brown’s skill set has compared to Robert Woods. Last season in Carolina, Brown caught 27 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown.

Brown also figures to help out on special teams and perhaps be a kick and punt returner. With that, Brown will make this team as a backup slot receiver and special team player.

Philly Brown Role: Backup Slot Receiver

Jeremy Butler

Butler, like Brown and Holmes, was also a free agent signing with the Bills this past off-season. Butler has good/average size at 6-foot-2, but is considered to have average/above average speed which should help him make the team as a potential deep ball threat — ahem, Marquise Goodwin replacement?

Jeremy Butler Role: Backup Receiver/Special Teamer

Kolby Listenbee

Don’t forget about Kolby Listenbee, who is one of the fastest players in the NFL. Listenbee adds immediate speed to the Bills receiver position, after he missed all of last season with an injury.

Listenbee will have to show he can be healthy, he can be a deep ball threat and can contribute on special teams to make this team. Like Butler, chances of making the team were increased with the loss of Marquise Goodwin.

Kolby Listenbee Role: Backup Receiver/Special Teamer

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Walt Powell

Walt Powell made the 53-man roster last season and is fighting to make the roster yet again this season. Powell did end the season on the injured reserve, but he is expected to be fully healthy for training camp.

Like Listenbee, Powell will need to show good route running, the ability to make plays and also contribute on special teams. Powell will most likely be the last guy to make the team as a receiver or the last cut.

Walt Powell Role: Backup Receiver/Special Teams

Brandon Tate, Corey Washington and Dez Lewis

I’m going to group all three of these players in as they figure to be the odd man out in the receiver position. Washington signed this off-season, but if he doesn’t show on special teams he won’t have a spot. Dez Lewis has been cut before and with the signing of Philly Brown, Jeremy Butler and Andre Holmes, it will be tough for Lewis to make the team.

And finally Brandon Tate, who was the most likely to make the team as a return specialist. However, the selection of Tre’Davious White has made him a roster casualty. Tate was expected to be the kick returner and punt returner, but White and Philly Brown now expect to do that.

So, there isn’t really a role for Tate on this team no longer.

All Three’s Role: Most likely all cut

Next: Taking a closer look at the Bills' tight ends

What do you think of the wide receivers on the Buffalo Bills‘ roster right now? Leave your thoughts below!