by Mario "Game" Granata
With all the talk about taking Mike Evans with the 9th overall pick, some have not noticed that the Buffalo Bills have a collection of receivers with size on the roster already. Although they aren't household names, they are big receivers who could have an impact in the 2014 season.
Looking at the Buffalo Bills offseason, a lot of attention has been paid to the defensive moves, and although there are still a lot of questions marks up in the air, many of the questions still left unanswered are on the Bills offense: more notably the wide receivers. Looking at the 2013 season, the Bills featured a quartet of receivers that didn’t immediately strike fear in opposing defenses. Marquise Goodwin (5’9”), TJ Graham (5’11”), Robert Woods (6’0”) and Stevie Johnson (6’2”) brought many things to the table in 2013, height not being one of them. Although very quick off the line, when the Bills were in the red zone this past year, it wasn’t like they had a Megatron, AJ Green, or Andre Johnson they could use to put up 6 on a fade route. So, as an organization, and a fan base, there were questions as to what the Bills will do to get bigger at that position, which is probably the reason that many people have Mike Evans going to the Bills with the 9th overall pick in this upcoming draft. But, this begs the question, as to why the Bills were supposedly interested in DeSean Jackson (5’11”). Do the Bills know something that we don’t?
Well, as DeSean settles into the Nation’s Capital, we here in the 716 have endured a long winter (and an even longer playoff drought) which is why fans have been wanting a big receiver to complement a roster that has formidable route-running pass catchers. But still, the news or the play for Jackson tells Bills’ fans one of two things: they are creating a smoke screen because they are looking for a receiver with the 9th pick, or they think that they have enough size, and you can never have enough playmakers. Whatever the reason, it’s comforting to see the Bills be a player in the off-season, even if they are still trying to get things together during the regular season.
Enter the offensive season moves for the Bills. They have brought back some familiar names, and went out and grabbed new ones: players that were undrafted, under the radar, and hopefully for the Bills, undervalued.
Ramses Barden (6’6”, 224). Coming into the league, Ramses Barden was touted as the next Plaxico Burress, and as stated on a previous article, if these two were in the same room, one would swear there is a mirror in the room. When Doug Whaley was in his first year with the Steelers, they took Plaxico in the first round, not hoping that he would tear the cover off the defense, but to be an excellent complement to Hines Ward, a tough nosed blocking sure handed threat. (Sounds like Robert Woods don’t it?) Health issues and unproductive play has marred Barden’s career thus far, but he is still only 28 years old, and all it takes is one season for a team to believe in a player for him to turn his career around.
Chris Summers (6’5” 215). Now, none of us are going to talk about Liberty as a powerhouse, but then again, a couple of the best receivers to play the game were from Mississippi Valley State and the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Now, I am not comparing Summers to Rice or Owens, but the idea of a talented receiver coming out of an unheralded college is not completely unbelievable. He went undrafted by the Chicago Bears, and now is with his third team and he is only 24 years old, but he is back in the league, and one thing that you can’t measure on a player is the drive to play. Some players come into the league highly touted, and fizzle out, but when you get a player that keeps fighting to stay in the league, imagine how hard he will fight if he sees the field. You think that there is a pass that he won’t sell out for?
Brandon Kaufman (6’4” 215). Kaufman was a player that was in the Bills camp and was cut before the season, but he possesses the physical toughness, and there has to be a reason that the Bills decided to bring him back for the 2014 off-season. More notably, Kaufman in college, was able to bring in 10 passes for 140 yards against Desmond Trufant, a former first round pick for the Atlanta Falcons, who stands at 6’0”, so Kaufman has the ability to play with some top notch talent, and be able to perform against that talent. Only time will tell if Kaufman will be able to showcase his toughness and ability in Orchard Park.
The last two players that the Bills have made moves for are Cordell Roberson (6’4” 205) and Kevin Elliot (6’3” 205), and again we see two very young players who are coming from Cleveland and Jacksonville respectively. Roberson and Elliot echo the theme of young, hungry players, who want to have their shot, and maybe they will get them in Buffalo. Elliot suffered a torn ACL and was gone for the season, so Bills fans were never able to see how he could perform in Nathaniel Hackett’s game plan, but when given the opportunity, he might be one to seize the moment. Roberson is two years younger than Elliot, but the theme that has carried through is that the Buffalo Bills went out and got big receivers, and got them early enough so they could soak up the playbook, and get themselves acclimated to the offense that they will be in this upcoming year.
Undrafted, unheralded, unproven, are the off-season moves that the Buffalo Bills targeted for the receiver position going into the 2014 season. All of these players have size, and by being in the position that they are all in, they possess the hunger to become stars in the NFL. If the Bills are looking for size at the wide receiver position, they have it, now how that size translates to the field is yet to be determined, but on any given Sunday, especially at Ralph Wilson stadium, anything is possible.