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Potential 2018 NFL Draft substitutes for Buffalo Bills free agent wide receiver Jordan Matthews

Replacing the Bills de facto #2 wide receiver through the draft

Jordan Matthews was another player that the Buffalo Bills got in a trade, but unlike other newcomer EJ Gaines, Matthews was not a great for the team. His best years in the NFL came lined up from the slot, instead of split out wide as the Bills were forced to utilize him for a good chunk of the time. Therefore, it’d be understandable if Matthews chooses to pursue a better fit in free agency. That would leave the team with another hole to fill in free agency or the draft. If Brandon Beane chooses, below is a small sampling of some of the wide outs the will be targeting in the 2018 NFL Draft.

As you will see, the 2018 Draft lacks true top-15 talent at the position but the middle and late rounds are fully stocked with both smaller, quicker archetypes as well as tall, power forward-type players.

Tier I

Calvin Ridley, Alabama

This year’s draft class lacks top-end talent with only Ridley considered to be a sure-fire first rounder. Despite his lack of targets at Alabama, his route running talent and speed to be a No. 1 option in the passing game is clear. His playing style reminds some of Colts great Reggie Wayne.

Tier II

Michael Gallup, Colorado State
Deon Cain, Clemson
DJ Moore, Maryland
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Courtland Sutton, SMU

Some of these Tier II players could make a jump into the first round, but will likely be second round picks. Michael Gallup was one of the most prolific receivers in college football and his toughness and ability to play any of the wide receiver positions will endear him to his offensive coordinator. Deon Cain’s speed and size are that of a starter NFL wideout, however he can struggle with drops. DJ Moore is so polished on tape, it’s hard to imagine him not making positive contributions in his rookie year. Christian Kirk is fast — one of the most electrifying runners and returners in the class. But that speed doesn’t always show up in his routing. Sutton needs to run well at the combine because he lacks the speed necessary to be anything more than a big-bodied, possession receiver.

Tier III

DJ Chark, LSU
James Washington, Oklahoma State
Cedrick Wilson, Boise State
Anthony Miller, Memphis
Dante Pettis, Washington
Korey Robertson, Southern Miss
Antonio Callaway, Florida

DJ Chark is a deep threat that could evolve into something more with NFL practice and training. Despite having a very good Senior Bowl, Washington’s upside and athletic profile is limited. Despite struggling against more physical corners, Wilson is solid in most other areas. Anthony Miller is a bit small and doesn’t quite have top-end speed, but his hands are the best in the class. He’s the best punt/returner in this class, which has value given that Bills returner Brandon Tate is a free agent, but as a receiver he never ran the full route tree. I love Korey Robertson’s physicality in the open field and at the catch point, but he’s not the most sudden athlete. Antonio Callaway will drop in the draft due to a sexual assault allegation as well as other off the field problems, but he has Tier II talent. He could be the 2018 version of Tyreek Hill If he gets a chance to play for a team.