Sunday, April 20, 2008

2008 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

by Coast

The Bills are in desperate need of a big receiver. They have three wide receivers on the roster right now that will be on the 2008 53 man roster. Lee Evans, who is in a contract year, is only 5'10, Josh Reed is also 5'10 and Roscoe Parrish is 5'9. Not only is this unit way undersized, but a year from now, it will be most likely without Lee Evans.

The problem with this years draft class is that there is no value in taking a wide receiver at 11. I have read that none of this years wide receivers are even first round talents. This does not mean that WR is not a deep position though, there are a lot of guys that could be value picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, just not at 11.

1. The top ranked receiver right now is Devin Thomas. Devin Thomas would be a major reach at number 11, but the Bills have been known to reach for players. He is currently ranked 21st overall according to Scouts Inc. Devin Thomas (MSU), has decent size at 6'1 7/8" and 216 pounds. He also had a solid 40 time of 4.4 seconds.

Strengths: Great hands, good runner after the catch, good second gear, good at changing directions and strong enough to drag defenders.

Weaknesses: More dangerous after the catch than as a vertical route runner, needs polishing when it comes to running routes, not much experience in major college football, below average acceleration, Inconsistent effort as a blocker.

My Take: I would like to get Devin Thomas, I just don't see the point in drafting him at 11. The only way I would like him is if we traded back into the first round. The fact that Thomas is better at running after the catch than running vertical actually is a plus for me. We have our vertical guy (at least for this season). We need a guy to go over the middle and draw some attention and make plays and it seems like he could do that. Route running and blocking can be coached, but really, what great receivers actually want to block? He was a "one year wonder" at MSU so he doesn't have much experience. That does not bother me at all...look at Randy Moss-he played in the MAC. TO played at Tennessee Chattanooga. How much does major DI experience really matter?

2. The number two ranked receiver this year is Limus Sweed from Texas. Sweed does have big game experience at the college level and played against elite college competition. Sweed is 6'3 7/8 215 pounds and ran a 4.549 40. This is ideal size for a guy that I want the Bills to bring in. I wish he was faster, but again, with a speedster on the other side of the line, the Bills don't really need a guy with blazing speed. With that size, 4.549 is acceptable.

Strengths: Rare size, well built, and extremely fluid for his size. Instinctive route runner, good at finding soft spots in the zone. Soft hands, good concentration, good at shielding defenders to adjust to the ball once in the air. Difficult to defend one on one in the red zone. Good strength and leaping ability on jump balls. Has good confidence. Good at changing directions. Very competitive, a hard worker, elusive.

Weaknesses: Durability, lacks a great initial burst and route running can use some improvement.

My Take: Limus Sweed seems like the ideal fit for Buffalo. He is competitive and a hard worker, so he seems like he is a player with good character. Again, his size and skill set seem like an ideal complement to Lee Evans. His ability to go over the middle and make people miss seems like it could be a huge asset. The major concern of course is his durability. Sweed has suffered wrist injuries. Didn't we draft a guy in the first round in 2004 that suffered a knee injury in college, and 2003 didn't we draft a guy who couldn't even play because of injury for a year? I am not going to shy away from some one because of a wrist. The problem of course is, where can we get Sweed? There is little to no chance that he will be there at 11. Who is to say he will even last past Devin Thomas? In order to get Sweed, we would have to trade back into the first round which as we all know is something that we aren't afraid to do. I would prefer Sweed to Thomas in a heart beat.

3. The third ranked WR is Malcolm Kelly from Oklahoma. Kelly has good size at 6'3 3/4 and 224 pounds but has had well below average workouts as far as the measurables go. Talk about a guy whose stock has been falling. Kelly was the no brainer number one receiver in this class until he actually worked out. His 40 times at his pro day were upwards of 4.7. Then he made excuses saying that Oklahoma didn't tell him what type of turf he was going to be running on. He re ran his 40 yard dash on astroturf, the fastest surface, and his time was still bad. So, not only has he been slow, he tries making excuses for it. Also, it has been rumored that he is overweight. How can you not be in the best shape right now of your life if you are Malcolm Kelly? You are about to enter the NFL draft. Makes me question this guys determination and work ethic.

Strengths: Excellent combination of size and speed, plays faster that his measurables. Very natural pass catcher. Strongest hands of any receiver in the 2008 class. Wins most jump balls and is a threat inside the red zone. Very smooth for his size. Smooth and fluid after the catch and runs very strong. Gains tough yards at the end of his runs.

Weaknesses: Lacks top end speed. Not very explosive after the catch. Needs to improve route running. Injury issues-missed time at end of last two college seasons.

My Take: Kelly should have had better workouts and should be in better shape right now. That is a concern for me. His 40 times were pathetic. I wonder if his knee is still an issue. Also, what's with making excuses? Come mean to tell me astroturf and field turf will make that significant a difference? At least when you re ran on field turf you could have improved your time. All that said, Kelly has great size and seems like someone who would be a good fit opposite Evans. What we need is a guy that is big, and can be a red zone threat and draw attention away from Lee. Kelly can do that, as can Sweed especially, Thomas too. It should be interesting to see where Malcolm Kelly falls to in this draft. After being easily a first round prospect, could he drop into the early 2nd? That would be big for Buffalo as it will be less costly to move up. If the Bills can't land Limus Sweed and Kelly is there in round 2, they should make a play for him.

4. DeSean Jackson from California is the next ranked Wide Receiver. I am not going to get into him very much because he is way too small (5'9 160). He pretty much is Roscoe Parrish and the chance the Bills draft him is 0.

5. Mario Manningham from Michigan is next and should be a player that is available right around 42 when the Bills pick in the 2nd round. Manningham is smallish at 5'11 and has character issues. For these reasons, I am not going to get into him very much as he does not fit what the Bills need at all.

6. James Hardy, Indiana, is the sixth ranked receiver in 2008. Hardy is an interesting player. He has ridiculous size at 6'5 3/8 and and ran a decent 4.49 40 which with his size can be dangerous.

Strengths: Obviously has great size. Can shield defenders and be a threat in the red zone on the jump ball. Shows good toughness over the middle and can hang on to the football when taking a hit.

Weaknesses: Needs to polish his route running. Lacks ideal speed and ability to separate from man coverage. Not much of a big play threat after the catch. Inconsistent effort when blocking. has some character issues. Was suspended for 2 games in 2006 because of an off field incident.

My Take: Hardy is an interesting prospect. How can you not love that size? At nearly 6'6" he would give the Bills an instant threat in the red zone. He would be a full 8 inches taller than any other receiver on the Bills roster. I am not too worried about his off field problems. 2006 was 2 years ago. Route running is coachable. If Hardy is around at 11, and the Bills are unable to make a move up in the draft to get one of the other big 3 (Thomas, Sweed, Kelly), then Hardy is probably a no brainer pick.

The Bills must get one of these players, except DeSean Jackson and Mario Manningham. Ideally, you would like to see the Bills get Limus Sweed and if not him, then Malcolm Kelly. Both of these guys would be good fits on Buffalo's offense. In either case however, the Bills will be forced to move up to the end of the first round which they wouldn't hesitate to do (see Poz and McCargo). I would think that Devin Thomas is a reach at 11 and would be drafted too high to move up and get him. If all else fails, take James Hardy at 42. Hardly has great size and upside. The Bills cannot take Devin Thomas at 11. I think Buffalo will make a trade to the end of round one to land Sweed or Kelly.


  1. JAMES-EFFFING-HARDY dude needs to be on this squad... period


  2. jordy nelson, third round...write it down