“Wait, we’re loaded at wide receiver, right? The depth chart is full of new faces. We added John Brown for a downfield threat to compete with Foster, and we brought in Cole Beasley to fill the slot role, and that CFL kid Duke Williams, and Andre Roberts to do KR/PR and be the 6-3 guy…and we brought in Nick Easley…You know, that JUCO walk-on at Iowa who only led the Hawkeyes in receptions for two seasons, had 103 catches, 1,024 receiving yards, and 9 TDs that we’re not even using? Why do we need to look at WR in the draft?” I hear you cry.
That’s exactly the point. GM Beane doesn’t want to “need to draft” ANY position due to a paucity of talent. Beane wants to draft BPA (best player available), BFA (best fit available), or BTA (best trade available) at every pick, so it behooves us draftniks to examine every position group for talent and fit, not just the “need positions”. Like iDL last year, we know there is ample, maybe even historic, WR talent in the 2020 NFL Draft class. Who fits and stands out?
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
#5 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
10.9 ypc vs. AP-ranked teams in 2018, 71 catches 13.5 ypc in 2019
You fall in love easily with Jeudy’s juice, advanced route-running skills, separation and YAC. Think “Odell Beckham with spindly legs”, and that’s Jerry Jeudy. He’s Robert Foster fast. In fact, as a freshman, Jeudy was timed with teammate Robert Foster, and both clocked a 4.47. Work ethic? Check. Daboll knows him: Check. What’s not to like? He’s currently #2 on our draft board, and we’d have to trade up a long way from #22.
Fit For Bills: A
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
#12 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
17.4 ypc vs. AP-ranked teams in 2018; 50 catches, 20.8 ypc in 2019
The most impressive thing about CeeDee is that me makes himself available to his QB with separation. Robert Foster quick. Lamb can make himself tall, shown here on this high-pointer. He caught six passes for 167 yards and one TD vs Alabama’s defense, so I think he’s ready for prime time. This year, Lamb had 57 catches and 10 TD, with a yards-per-catch average against AP ranked teams that was the best of top 10 (if your name isn’t Ruggs). Pro Football Focus ranked Lamb 2nd among all returning WRs in “QB Rating When Targeted”, with a 145.2, and that’s a factor if you want to help a young quarterback. Lamb got to work with speedster Marquise Brown, which is an added plus. Not much turned up on my Google search on on Lamb’s work ethic, but there was this catch… Oh, and tons of sheep working hard. They have lamb work ethic.
Fit For Bills: A+
Tee Higgins, Clemson
#23 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
15.2 ypc vs. AP-ranked teams in 2018; 43 catches, 20.9 ypc in 2019
Teams value this size with that athleticism and a wideout’s YPC vs AP teams. The Draft Network loves Higgins: “He can beat you in so many ways. He can cook you with his feet on a good route, he can beat you down the field with long speed, and he can make tough catches and get his feet down at the sideline.” Tee’s DraftTek rank is #23, exactly in the neighborhood. Higgins has the team mentality and grinder work ethic. Will Beane pull a Doug Whaley and draft a guy from Clemson?
Fit For Bills: A+
Henry Ruggs, Alabama
#25 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
18.8 ypc vs. AP-ranked teams in 2018; 38 catches, 18.9 ypc in 2019
Ruggs shows excellent “my ball” mentality at the catch point, and has done it against soon-to-be NFL talent like Deandre Baker. You see Ruggs make the tough and even spectacular catches through traffic, and that’s what you want in a #1 WR. Ruggs has the 4.3 speed to separate and get over the top of a defense, although you could argue we have that in Robert Foster and John Brown. Ruggs checks the character and motivation boxes for sure. The height box? Not so much, but there are non-Smurf WRs available in this draft later on.
Fit For Bills: A
Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
#213 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
12.1 ypc vs. AP-ranked teams in 2018; 59 catches, 15.1 ypc in 2019
Claypool is fun to watch, and he’s at the Bills’ most-watched school from 2018. He uses length, strength, and cunning so well that he’s higher on my own board (#90) than some other preseason draft boards. He has 4.48 speed at a true 6-4 height, and is just the fourth Notre Dame WR since 1996 to eclipse 400 receiving yards in 3 straight seasons. Says Head Coach Brian Kelly about Claypool: “Excited about Chase; love his work ethic.” Work ethic. Those are Process words right there.
Fit For Bills: A+
Michael Pittman Jr., USC
#55 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
19.4 ypc vs. AP-ranked teams in 2018; 95 catches, 12.9 ypc in 2019
Right at the RD2 selection point for the Bills, Pittman possesses “my ball” at catch point mentality. He was only Sam Darnold’s target for one year, as in 2016 he did special teams, and in 2017 he was still stuck behind starters JuJu Smith-Schuster, Darreus Rogers, and Deontay Burnett, nursing a sore ankle to boot (pun intended). I like the fit and using RD2 for a wideout with a #1-WR ceiling. I’d drop Pittman’s fit a little because his father (who played a short time with the Cardinals) got involved in a tweetstorm, threatening to transfer him unless he got more playing time. Actually, Dad’s threats might have worked, because in the games that followed, Pittman had 2 receptions, then 3, then 4 the next week. By year’s end, Pittman was 2nd in YPC vs AP teams in ’18. Will his father’s squeaky wheel get some grease in Buffalo?
Fit For Bills: A+
Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
#190 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
11.5 ypc vs. AP-ranked teams in 2018; 71 catches, 11.5 ypc in 2019
Edwards is thickly-built, yet builds in these zigs and zags that wow. Muschamp said about Edwards’ work habits and attitude: “Bryan is a very mature young man. He gets it. He has a real good work ethic. He pushes himself through adversity,” Muschamp says. “We’ve got some other freshman receivers that can’t, quite frankly. The intangible qualities you look for in any player? Bryan has.” South Carolina was a frequent visit spot for Bills scouts last year and this.
Fit For Bills: A+
Best Of The Rest:
Marquez Callaway, Tennessee
#200 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
29 catches, 21.2 ypc
That’s “my ball”! That’s “my ball again“! Callaway’s a real fun watch, and could end up on Beane’s smartphone just like Singletary did last year. I admire Callaway’s strength at the catch point in play after play. He’s also a punt returner, which the Bills need down the line (ours turns 32 right before the Super Bowl). Off the field, Callaway asks lots of questions, and honest curiosity borne out of a desire to be a lifelong learner is an important part of The Process.
Stephen Guidry, Mississippi State
#256 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
24 catches, 13 ypc
Guidry is string-bean spindly, but has some toe-drag swag to make up for it. Speed? Yep, he has all of that and then some. Guidry makes my list because he had the highest 2018 YPC vs AP teams in my Top 20 (29.2 ypc). I have Guidry at #201, and DraftTek has him a UDFA, but his 4.38 timed forty should get more attention from NFL scouts. After catching 6 passes for 76 yards and a TD in the Music City Bowl, then getting an invite from the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Guidry should get a look in training camp.
Juwan Johnson, Oregon
#230 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
23 catches, 15.2 ypc
Johnson would be a very good over-the-middle dumpoff option due to his size, and that’s how Justin Herbert used him for the Ducks. His YAC yardage would be huge because it’s hard for one LB to bring 6-4, 231 down. The Bills have stayed away from Oregon in the past, likely due to differing scheme and its translation to the NFL, but you can teach scheme, but not size. He’d be a good RD6 flier, and we have three picks in that round.
Isaiah Wright, Temple
UDFA on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
47 catches, 9.4 ypc
Wright shows off a KR’s speed, and special teams play a role in late Day-3 prospects (and Andre Roberts turns 32 in January). Used in a variety of ways at Temple, Wright can be utilized on running plays where he can show off his explosiveness. He’s not going to wow you with his timed forty, but he converts speed to power better than most of the Day-3 guys. Plus, he’s more thickly built with a 6-2 frame.
Darnell Mooney Tulane
#236 on DraftTek 2020 Big Board
45 catches, 14.9 ypc
Smaller than almost everybody in the WR draft class, Mooney makes the list because he’s affable, handles himself well, and was on the Biletnikoff Watch List. Moreover, Mooney’s YPC vs AP-ranked teams in 2018 was top 5, so he and K.J. Hamler can compete to be this year’s Andy Isabella. He can break ankles with zigzags like these.
#51 Omar Bayless Arkansas State
6-3, 207, —
53 catches, 18.7 ypc
Watch This red-zone candy. The stat line will read 9 of 16 targets for 180 yards and a touchdown, but Bayless had two TD drops in the Camelia Bowl against FIU, but had success against a non-AP-slate of teams: 93 receptions, 1,661 yards and 17 touchdowns, ranking him second in the nation in receiving and touchdown receptions. In a loaded WR class, you may try to wait it out until RD3 for
#131 Antonio Gandy-Golden Liberty
6-4, 216, 4.54
79 catches, 17.7 ypc
Gandy-Golden is 2nd among draftables in yards (1,304). His level of competition (NM, Maine, Idaho St) and questionable straight-line speed. He struggles to get separation going vertical and relies on size to find success (hello, Kelvin Benjamin). Good box-out with big frame, but rounds off routes. Bills paid a visit to a practice at Liberty.
#237 Quez Watkins Southern Miss
6-2, 190, 4.4
55 catches, 18.6 ypc
“Q” is an electrifying receiver, especially in the open field, team-first, and affable. This Watkins would be worth drafting with one of the Bills’ five RD5-6 picks.
UDFA Jacob Harris UCF
6-5, 211, —-
19 catches, 23.6 ypc
Size mismatch and super hard worker, so what’s the story? Harris didn’t take up the game of football until his senior year of high school, was a transfer from Western Kentucky, and he has a short 16-game resume. If you’re a coach (or draftnik) looking for a raw receiver with tools and upside, he’s had some kick-return experience. Start him there and see where he takes you.
UDFA Lawrence Cager Georgia
6-5, 220, —
33 catches, 14.4 ypc
A Miami transfer from Georgia, Cager missed the SEC Championship Game with ankle surgery, but he’s accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl. He’ll have to make an impression on scouts in practices, as he’s not on the radar yet. His sheer size could get him into a mini-camp.
Editor’s babble: We are SO blessed to have Dean Kindig keep us up to date on who to watch in college football this fall. Thanks to Dean for his tremendous contributions to our blog. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.