Buffalo Bills

Nate’s Notebook: Dissecting the 2020 Draft Wide Receiver Class

Wide receiver was one of the most uncertain positions for the Bills entering the 2019 season. There were plenty of options but not a lot of sure answers. The free-agent additions of Cole Beasley and John Brown have been even better than expected.

Brown will almost surely be the Bills’ first 1,000-yard receiver since Sammy Watkins in 2015. Beasley has contributed over 600 yards through 13 games. After those two, however, receiver production is almost non-existent.

The 2020 NFL Draft is set to be rich in wide receiver talent. The Bills will have plenty of options throughout the draft to upgrade the position if they choose. Let’s take a look at the different types of receivers the Bills could target.

The Speed Demon

Jalen Reagor, TCU (5-11, 195 lbs)
A true gamebreaker and home run threat, Reagor brings world-class speed that is hard to find. Expect to see him run in the low 4.3s at the NFL combine. Reagor had relatively modest production this season (43 catches, 611 yards) though his quarterback situation at TCU was a complete mess. The knock on Reagor is he isn’t a polished route runner and mainly relies on his speed to get away from people (think Desean Jackson). Acquiring his services would likely require the Bills late 1st round pick.

Other options: Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), KJ Hill (Ohio State), Tyrie Cleveland (Florida)

The Big Red Zone Target

Tee Higgins, Clemson (6-4, 215 lbs)
Higgins will be a size mismatch for just about any corner that lines up across from him. He’s been extremely productive for Clemson with over 900 yards as a sophomore and breaking the 1,000-yard mark as a junior. He’s a big play waiting to happen, averaging over 20 yards per reception in 2019. Higgins won’t have the speed to consistently separate from NFL cornerbacks but his size will make a tough cover in the red zone. Higgins is likely as 2nd-day pick, and oh, by the way, he’s got some insane hands and body control.

Nico Collins, Michigan (6-5, 220 lbs)
Collins led all NCAA receivers in two categories: contested catch rate and defensive pass interference calls induced. He doesn’t have great speed and isn’t particularly elusive after the catch. But he is uncoverable in jump ball situations with a contested-catch rate near 80%, which is absurd. Collins won’t ever lead the NFL in receptions, but it would be no surprise if he leads the league in TD receptions at some point in his career. Consider Collins a mid-round prospect with a ton of upside.

Other options: Collin Johnson (Texas), Chase Claypool (Notre Dame), Michael Pittman (USC)

The Small School Flier

Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty (6-4, 220 lbs)
Gandy-Golden is an intriguing prospect who has dominated the competition at Liberty, recording 73 receptions for over 1,300 yards and 9 TDs in 2019. He’s a natural receiver with reliable hands and runs smooth routes for a big guy. He’s very physical and used his size to dominate defenders. The competition level is obviously a concern, and the combine is going to be extremely important to Gandy-Golden. If he runs a solid 40-time, he could go in the late 1st or early 2nd. If not, he could slide to the 3rd round. Gandy-Golden could be a steal and has the physical skills to be the best receiver in the draft class.

Other options: Darrell Mooney (Tulane), Aaron Parker (Rhode Island)

The Steal of the Draft

Tyler Johnson, Minnesota (6-2, 205 lbs)
Johnson is one of my favorite players in this draft, and I think he’ll make some GM look very smart. He’s not elite in any one category but he’s a receiver that checks every box. He has good size, decent speed, great hands, runs good routes, plays hard, is intelligent and savvy, and produced consistently against even the highest levels of competition. He doesn’t get talked about in the same breath as they dudes from Alabama and Clemson but he’s every bit as good. He’s a first-round talent that almost assuredly will go at least a round or two later.

Other options: Justin Jefferson (LSU), Van Jefferson (Florida), Tamorrion Terry (Florida State)

I didn’t include Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb on any list as it seems quite likely that they will both be gone early in the draft. If either falls or by some turn of events the Bills have the chance to secure the services of either one, it’d be a dynamite addition to the Bills receiver room.

In a draft this deep, the Bills would be wise to take a receiver but shouldn’t reach for any one of them. This is one of the deepest receiver classes I can remember and there will quality options well into the 3rd day. What do you think #BillsMafia, is there a receiver out there you’d like to see in Buffalo next year?

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