Despite a perceived need at the wide receiver position, the Buffalo Bills did not select a wideout until pick number 187 when they selected Ray-Ray McCloud out of Clemson. Clemson has a history of producing top-tier talent at the position, but will McCloud live up to that potential? Below is our scouting report.
A high school running back, McCloud made a transition to wide receiver when he came to Clemson. While he never managed to be the number 1 option in the passing game, the Tigers used him to great effect. His freshman year, McCloud came down with 29 receptions for 251 yards and a touchdown to go with kickoff return average of 31 yards. His opportunities in the offense went up in his sophomore year and he rewarded the coaching staff with 49 receptions for 472 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 172 punt return yards on 21 attempts. Despite starting all 14 games his junior year, his stats did not meaningfully improve as he finished the year with 49 catches for 503 yards and a touchdown to go with 303 punt return yards on 25 attempts. Following the 2017 season the junior wideout surprised everyone when he declared for the NFL Draft. Despite the athleticism he’d shown on tape, McCloud had a mediocre performance at the 2018 NFL Combine.
Despite a lack of height at 5’9”, McCloud is solidly built to absorb contact. His biggest asset is his ability to contribute to a team in multiple ways. McCloud has experience returning kickoffs and punts, as well as lining up and taking handoffs in the backfield. A creative offensive coordinator will find ways to use his talents. As a receiver, the tape shows a surprisingly effective route runner who doesn’t lose much speed when making his cuts. McCloud also sports of pair of excellent hands and knows to snatch passes away from his body and to turn up field quickly. He led all Division I receivers with the most consecutive receptions without a dropped pass. Although he ran a mediocre 4.53 at the NFL Combine, it’s evident that McCloud has breakaway speed as evidenced by the number of big plays he was able to manufacture on jet sweeps and short dump-off passes.
How Clemson decided on deploying McCloud prevented him from running anything close to the full receiver route tree. As a result, it will be difficult for him to master a full-time receiver position. Undersized, McCloud will likely be restricted to a slot role where defenders are unable to press him at the line of scrimmage. Despite his speed, McCloud lacks the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. Fumbling has also been an issue which will not endear him to the coaching staff if it continues in the NFL.
If Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll can cleverly adapt to McCloud’s strengths as a player, he could be in line for a James White-type role as a pass-catching gadget player who mostly contributes on special teams. If the Bills fail to design such a role for him, McCloud may be an early candidate for the practice squad.