The Buffalo Bills need a wide receiver. Dozens of NFL-hopeful wideouts worked out this afternoon in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine. Naturally, these eyes were glued to the NFL Network broadcast of the workouts, and naturally, there were several (big) wide receivers who caught my eye.
One other position the Bills may address in the draft is fullback, and there were a couple of nice performances there as well. Quarterbacks and running backs worked out as well; the Bills are pretty well set at those positions, clearly, but there was some movement at those positions as well.
I was impressed with the work of Texas wideout Limas Sweed, who despite still recovering from a serious wrist injury did the vast majority of receiver workouts. At nearly 6'4", Sweed ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and looked like a smooth, explosive athlete. Coupled with the fact that Malcolm Kelly (Oklahoma) did not work out, Sweed may eventually leapfrog the junior for the title of best "big" receiver available in this draft.
Michigan State's Devin Thomas had a great workout, pumping out a 4.32 40. NFLN analyst Steve Mariucci lauded Thomas as one of the better kick returners available in the draft as well, which all but solidifies his status as a late-first/early-second round pick. He was very impressive. Others who impressed in terms of speed were James Hardy (4.47), Will Franklin (4.32), Jordy Nelson (4.49), Keenan Burton (4.43), Paul Hubbard (4.46) and Jerome Simpson, whose 4.47 highlighted an incredible workout. He's now a third-round sleeper pick.
Which receivers hurt themselves? There were some disappointments, but Michigan's Mario Manningham - the supposed best deep threat available in the draft - could only muster a 4.59. That's as fast as Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman. He probably slid out of the first round with his work. One last interesting note about this wideout crop: Mike Mayock mentioned, and it was confirmed, that some scouting departments may not give any of these receivers a first-round grade. The group has some impressive athletes, but they looked highly inconsistent in positional drills. I wouldn't touch a first-round receiver with a ten foot pole if I were the Bills.
Very quickly about the top three names at fullback: the Bills really can't go wrong if they add either Owen Schmitt, Peyton Hillis or Jacob Hester. Schmitt ran a 4.7 40 - imagine that type of speed coming straight at you in a 260-pound package. He's clearly the best blocker available; Hester ran a 4.6 but struggled in positional drills, and while I didn't catch Hillis' time, he looked much more impressive toting the rock than Hester did. If the Bills are looking to add a blocker, Schmitt's the best; if they're looking for a ball handler, Hillis is the best bet. He could be a real factor in an NFL offense.
QB/RB Quick Hits
Delaware's Joe Flacco and Michigan's Chad Henne had impressive workouts at quarterback, further muddling the top of the QB draft class. San Diego's Josh Johnson - a mid-round prospect I'd had my eye on as a potential steal and future backup to Trent Edwards - wowed scouts by running a 4.4.
Arkansas' Darren McFadden is an absolute stud, as he busted off a 4.27 on his first try at the 40. Perhaps more impressive, however, was the sub-4.4 that Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall posted. He's likely to be a Top-15 pick, especially if a team is looking to move up for a running back.
* Note: all 40 times listed above are unofficial.