Lee Evans to Baltimore Ravens: Which Buffalo Bills WR Takes His Place?

Dan Van WieContributor IIIAugust 12, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 24:  Lee Evans #83 of the Buffalo Bills scores a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Bills lead the Ravens at the half 24-20. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

As per an article on ESPN from NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Buffalo Bills have traded veteran wide receiver Lee Evans to the Baltimore Ravens for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

Evans will add a deep threat element to the Ravens offense, as the team was not convinced that rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith was ready after observing him in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles last night. Between veteran Anquan Boldin and Evans, quarterback Joe Flacco now has two viable options for the passing attack, not to mention two mentors for rookie receivers Smith and Tandon Doss.

The Bills now have one month and four preseason games left to figure out who is ready to take the next step up in the offense to replace Lee Evans' production.

The educated guess as to who will step up focuses on the four rookies that joined the team in 2010. The Bills will need someone that can be a threat opposite the breakout receiver of 2010, Stevie Johnson. The four rookies are David Nelson, Donald Jones, Naaman Roosevelt and Marcus Easley.

It should be noted that Johnson's production in 2010 went down after Lee Evans was placed on the IR list. Opponents were able to focus their coverages on Johnson and the same will probably happen now in 2011 with Evans being traded away.

Besides the four 2010 rookies, there are two other veterans that might be able to step up, which would be slot receiver Roscoe Parrish and newcomer Craig "Buster" Davis, who the Bills just brought into camp last week.

The Bills save some money on the salary cap with this trade, which they can then apply to extending the contracts on players like nose tackle Kyle Williams or quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The wide receiver that I project to be the main beneficiary of Evans' absence will boil down to David Nelson and/or Marcus Easley, provided that Easley can stay healthy. Easley missed the entire 2010 season due to injury, and already suffered a hyper-extended knee early in training camp in 2011.

If Nelson, Jones, Roosevelt or Parrish wind up taking on a larger role, at least they have the benefit of already establishing good chemistry with Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2010.

The wild card in this scenario is C.J. Spiller, who Bills head coach Chan Gailey confessed needs to be getting the ball in the open field more. Gailey said he needs do a better job of creating plays that allows Spiller to get the ball out in space. This may be exactly the time for Gailey to devise new plays that call for Spiller to split out wide, as he did in a touchdown catch against the Patriots in his rookie season.

As far as the Bills philosophy goes, this move is consistent with the overall plan of general manager Buddy Nix, who wants to build the team through the draft. The Bills have a surplus of quality wide receivers, and now they have another draft pick that they can use for leverage if they need to move up in the 2012 draft to acquire a starting tackle or potential franchise quarterback.