With most pre-training camp discussions focusing on the Buffalo Bills' 2013 starting lineup, there are several backups that should see significant playing time this season. Here at Buffalo Rumblings, we've decided to take a look at some of those players and determine which ones could be expected to take on a prominent role for the Bills.
Wide receiver T.J. Graham is entering his second year after being the Bills' third-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft out of North Carolina State. During his four years with the Wolfpack, Graham recorded 99 receptions for 1,453 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Last year, Graham's deep speed was under-utilized due to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's lack of arm strength, which led to the majority of his targets coming primarily on bubble screens and slants. To put this into perspective, 13 of Graham's 31 receptions were screens, and he played just 101 snaps in the slot, where he was expected to start off his career.
ProFootballFocus.com's Nathan Janke had this interesting stat regarding Graham's misuse heading into Week 16 last season.
"On T.J. Graham's 55 targets, the average time to throw has been 2.1 seconds, which is tied for the lowest for all receivers with at least 50 targets."
Graham managed to haul in just 31 out of 58 intended passes (38 were "catchable") for 322 yards and one touchdown as a rookie. He did have one of the highest drop percentages in the league, as he wasn't able to hang on to seven balls, grading out as PFF's second-highest drop rate among receivers who had at least 50 targets.
Regardless, he should see an increase in just about every receiving category during his sophomore campaign.
While Stevie Johnson and rookie wide receiver Robert Woods are expected to start the 2013 season as the Bills' No. 1 and No. 2 wideouts, Graham should see significant playing time both outside the hashes and in the slot. Former general manager Buddy Nix stated that he would like to see Johnson's shiftiness and superior route-running ability put to better use in the slot, but it's unclear what role the new coaching staff has in mind for him.
Graham is a smaller receiver, standing 5'11" and weighing 188 pounds, but drew comparisons to Miami Dolphins' wideout Mike Wallace prior to the draft, as both display explosiveness and the ability to create separation off the snap. While Graham appeared in 695 offensive snaps as a rookie - 68.8 percent of the Bills' total - this was mainly due to injuries to wide receivers David Nelson and Donald Jones, both of whom are no longer with the team.
The Bills used their third-round selection in a wide receiver of similar speed and stature to Graham in Marquise Goodwin. However, Goodwin is more of a gadget-type player at this stage due to his limited role in the Texas Longhorns' offense, which should allow Graham to see a more prominent role in the Bills' offense that will feature a variety of three wide receiver sets.
Head Coach Doug Marrone discussed Graham and Goodwin to Tim Graham of The Buffalo News earlier this off-season.
"We're looking, really, for those playmakers," Bills coach Doug Marrone said. "We're looking for when you send a group on the field, [defenders] are worried about getting behind them. People are worried about doing things in the slot."
Graham' 4.41 40-yard dash speed definitely makes him a potential playmaker in the Bills' "multiple" offense under Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, which makes him our first "Super Sub" on the offensive side of the ball.