What the Bills Need:
With the draft starting in less than a week, it is important to look at accumulating competition at every position. Adding to this wide receiver group has been a coveted topic that the Bills front office and fans alike have been clamoring for since the season ended back in January. This resulted in Brandon Beane and his team pulling the trigger on a trade to acquire playmaker and true number one receiver, Stefon Diggs. Even though this move was made, our receiving group is still lacking some height to go along with our great route runners and speedsters. Michael Pittman Jr. is an intriguing prospect who has both of those traits along with a height advantage.
While at USC, Pittman played on the outside in their spread offense. His route tree mainly consisted of short digs/outs, fades, go routes, and curls. He was a dynamic playmaker for their offense and was heavily targeted during clutch situations. He has really good hands and was a proven reliable target. He was also on multiple special team units and showed results there. Pittman was a captain for USC and comes from a football family with his father being a 10-year NFL veteran as a running back in the league.
Release, Separating, and Route Running:
When coming off the line Pittman didn’t really show any flashy technique. He displayed the ability to beat press sometimes by running past defenders with inside or outside releases. He can struggle against corners who use better technique but ultimately can get off the line fairly well.
After his release, Pittman separates by using his route running, quickness, and leaping ability. His understanding to break back to the ball when stemming up field is what gives him so much separation on his outs, slants, and digs. He can quickly cut on routes in order to maximize the separation between him and the defender. When targeted on deeper routes, his ball tracking skills are really shown off along with his contested catch. His high pointing technique combined with his jumping ability is what helps him separate downfield.
Route Savvy and Play Making Ability:
While studying Pittman on film, it was clear that he excels at one of the most underrated portions of a receiver’s game. The ability to throttle down in open gaps in zone coverage is a trait that comes from a keen sense of awareness and chemistry within an offense. Pittman especially displayed this in redzone and goal-line situations making him a prized red zone target.
As a playmaker, Pittman didn’t really show the run after catch to consistently take shorter catches the distance. Where he really showed off his big-play ability was on deeper targets. Pittman’s balance and body control after the catch is what helps him run with a long air reception. Multiple times a game, their offense would have specifically designed plays to target Pittman on jump balls 40 yards down the field, and he would come down with it ready to take it to the house.
Even though the Bills have somewhat answered their receiver needs this offseason, it is crucial to draft one. With all three of our starting receivers on multiple-year contracts at a higher price than a rookie, it would be a good idea to draft a playmaker who is cheaper for the long term.
Michael Pittman Jr. has great talent and could be a steal for the Bills in the early third round if he falls that far. With such a stacked receiving class, it’ll be hard to know exactly where he’ll drop. If trading up in the third round will land him in Buffalo, it might be a good idea for the Bills to do so. Pittman’s size and athleticism combined with his leadership are what make him such a good fit for the Bills.