With the recent release of Donald Jones, and the lack of production from any other wide receiver in Buffalo other than Stevie Johnson, the Bills need to draft a wide receiver that can help take some of the pressure off of Johnson and can stretch defenses out. If he can still make plays on the ball even when he is covered, all the better, as that is a skill that Buddy Nix values in wide receivers.
Mike Mayock ranked the best five wide receivers coming into the combines as follows:
1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
2. Keenan Allen, Cal
3. Terrance Williams, Baylor
4. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
5. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Patterson is a player that has been linked to the Bills in mock drafts, and he is an exciting type of playmaker that would make the Bills offense more dynamic. He could very well still be there on the big board when the Bills turn is up at No. 8. In 2012, Patterson scored a touchdown as wide receiver, running back, punt returner and kick returner. That hadn't been done by one player in the same year for over four years. Like we said he is a playmaker. Red flag: he only has one year at Division I-A.
Here is an overview of the top 10 wide receivers at the combine from NFL.com, ranked by grade:
Tennessee Jr. Cordarrelle Patterson (90.6)
Patterson is 6'3" tall and weighs 205 pounds. Split time this year as a wide receiver and at running back. Strong special teams contributor. Made 46 receptions for 778 yards, averaging 16.9 yards per catch. Had five touchdown receptions this year. Ran the ball 25 times for 208 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Averaged 12.3 yards per rush. Would be dynamic at running reverses or misdirection plays. At 6'3", is one of the tallest receivers in this top 10 group.
Clemson Jr. DeAndre Hopkins (87.8)
Hopkins is 6'1" tall and weighs 200 pounds. Caught 82 passes this year for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns. Averaged 17.1 yards per reception. 27 career touchdown receptions at Clemson.
Cal Jr. Keenan Allen (86.3)
Heaviest receiver in the group at 210 pounds, and is 6'3" tall. Caught 61 passes for 737 yards and six touchdowns this year. Averaged 12.1 yards per reception and has 17 career touchdowns at Cal. A number of mocks have Allen going to the Bills with the No. 8 overall pick.
West Virginia Sr. Tavon Austin (85.4)
Austin is short at just 5'9" tall and weighs only 174 pounds. Smaller player but very agile, and a dynamic runner in open field. You can't tackle what you can't touch. 114 receptions for 1289 yards, averaging 11.3 yards per catch. Scored 12 touchdowns via receptions in 2012. Also ran the ball 72 times for 643 yards, averaging 8.9 yards per carry. This is another dynamic playmaker. 35 career touchdowns at West Virginia. He tore apart Oklahoma's defense in 2012 as they had no answer for how to stop him.
Imagine putting C.J Spiller on one side of the field and Austin on the other. Or isolating both of them against linebackers. That would be exciting to watch.
Louisiana Tech Sr, Quinton Patton (83.8)
6'2" tall and 195 pounds, Patton has good size. Another wide receiver that came up with over 100 receptions in 2012, (104), Patton gained 1,392 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. Averaged 13.4 yards per catch. Had 24 career touchdown receptions at Louisiana Tech.
Baylor Sr. Terrance Williams (83.6)
Williams went nuts in 2012, picking up an unbelievable 1,832 yards on 97 receptions. Keep in mind that Williams did this after RG3 left for the NFL. Williams is 6'2" tall and weighs 205 pounds. He averaged almost 19 yards per catch (18.9) which is the best of any receiver in the group. Scored 12 touchdowns this year and has 27 touchdowns in his career at Baylor.
USC Jr. Robert Woods (83.1)
Woods was the darling on USC campus until Marqise Lee arrived and stole his thunder. (Lee made 118 receptions this year for 1,721 yards). Woods is 6'1" tall and weighs 190 pounds. In 2012, Woods made 76 receptions for 846 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He averaged just 11.1 yards per catch, lowest average in this group. Has 32 career touchdowns at USC. His longest reception this season went for 41 yards, which is the lowest total for any of the receivers listed on this slide.
Oregon St. Sr. Markus Wheaton (81.8)
Wheaton is 6'1" and weighs 182 pounds. Caught 91 passes this year for 1,244 yards. Averaged 13.7 yards per reception and scored 11 touchdowns for the Beavers. Has 16 career touchdowns.
Tennessee Jr. Justin Hunter (81.8)
Tallest receiver in the group at 6'4" and weighs 200 pounds. Hunter caught 73 passes this year for Tennessee for 1,083 yards. Averaged 14.8 yards per catch and scored nine touchdowns. He has a total of 18 career touchdown receptions for the Volunteers.
West Virginia Jr. Stedman Bailey (79.0)
Despite the lowest grade of the group, don't be fooled as Bailey is a quality wide receiver. He is not very big at just 5'10" tall and 188 pounds. But he got free to catch 114 passes for 1,622 yards this year. That total was second only to Terrance Williams. Bailey averaged 14.2 yards per catch and led the entire group with 25 touchdown receptions in 2012. He also led the group with 41 touchdown receptions in his career. His longest reception that went for 87 yards is the longest play of the group.
One interesting note is that Bills head coach Doug Marrone's last game at Syracuse was the Pinstripe Bowl versus West Virginia. He needed to watch plenty of tape to prepare a game plan against Geno Smith, Bailey and Austin, so he knows at least two of these receivers very well already. What a dynamic trio they were at West Virginia. Will be interesting to see if either Bailey or Austin winds up being drafted by the same team that takes Smith.
Following that logic, you have USC's Robert Woods paired with Matt Barkley, Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter with Tyler Bray. That chemistry should be evident when you see the passing drills being conducted at the scouting combine.
Don't be surprised if Robert Griffin III winds up lobbying the Redskins for ex-teammate Terrance Williams from Baylor.