Ranking Buffalo Bills top solutions to fix the No. 1 wide receiver predicament
By Avery Duncan
1. 2020 NFL Draft/Free Agency
It’s easy to say that any draft can fix any position due to the potential of young players, but the 2020 NFL Draft class is different. It’s shaping to be the best receiver class of the 21st century. The soon-to-be rookie crop of receivers is stack full with talents ready to be a No. 1 option immediately or down the line.
Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy highlights the class — he’s noted as one of the best route runners ever to play NCAA football — but he likely won’t be available for the Bills’ picking. The ‘Bama product is so good that mock drafts have him in contention to be the first player off the board — something that hasn’t happened in 23 years. There is far more than just him, though.
Jeudy takes the cake as the best receiver in the class — so far — but a few others are gunning for the position.
- Colorado’s Laviska Shenault is a 6-foot-2 play-maker and is widely considered as the second-best option, and potentially worthy of a top-ten selection. He’s a complete package as he forms a solid frame with finite route-running, sure hands, eye-popping athleticism, and physicality.
- Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb took a backseat to Marquise Brown during his first two years, but he’s been a key-cog to one of the nation’s best passing attacks as a do-it-all receiver. He measures in at 6-foot-2 and is expected to run a 40-time in the 4.40s.
- Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III is Jeudy’s running mate, playing the role of a slot receiver. Though undersized at around 6-foot, sub-185-pounds, he’s a big-time play-maker and would surely be a No. 1 option on most college teams; slot duties be damned.
- Clemson’s Tee Higgins is phenom Trevor Lawrence’s favorite target, and it’s not tough to see why. He runs down the field far faster than somebody his size should (6-foot-4, 200-pounds) and has the body control, vertical, and catch radius to be nearly undefendable.
- Texas’ Collin Johnson is the biggest out of this bunch at 6-foot-5 and 220-pounds, but he has the foot quickness, flexibility, and route-tree closer to a quicker, smaller receiver. Most thought he’d enter the 2019 NFL Draft and was in contention to be gone in the first-round if so.
- USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. is a bit under-the-radar due to some injury concerns, but he has first-round potential. A 6-foot-4, 215-pound target with athleticism to boot, the son of former NFL running back Michael Pittman turned heads as a contested catch ace last year.
- Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson is slowly creeping up boards after a strong 2018 season. Like most others on this list, size isn’t a concern at 6-foot-2, 200-pounds. He has a versatile, and polished game that can succeed on the outside or in the slot.
- Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden is far from a household name, but he may change that by the end of next April. The small-school product has good size at 6-foot-4 and 220-pounds and consistent hands. He’s a menace after the catch and dominates weaker competition.
The nine mentioned are just some of the candidates in the running to be a first-round pick, there are a handful of others that could break in as well. The depth available isn’t like anything we’ve seen in recent years. Hopefully, the Bills take advantage of that.
As for free agents, the 2020 class is loaded with talent, that probably won’t be available. Michael Thomas, Amari Cooper, and Tyreek Hill highlight the grouping, but all — save for Hill, perhaps (legal issues being processed) — should receive massive extensions by their respective teams.
A.J. Green may be the most intriguing name based on his uncertainty. He’s had a Hall of Fame worthy start to his career, but he’ll be 32 next off-season and has dealt with injury concerns. He could be available if he shows regression as well. Nonetheless, considering the cost to get one of the four mentioned, the draft may be the better option.