In the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected receiver Ray Ray McCloud out of Clemson. McCloud will not only be a weapon in the slot but also on special teams. For more information on Ray Ray we talked to Alex Craft from SB Nation’s Shakin the Southland.
What would you say are Ray Ray’s strengths?
Undoubtedly his creativity and shiftiness in space, particularly how smoothly he cuts and jukes. As you you would expect given this skill set, Ray-Ray was Clemson’s primary punt returner and screen pass receiver. McCloud’s hands are also extremely underrated, and I believe he did not drop a single pass last season. He is a reliable target underneath who is always a threat to gain yards after the catch, and is surprisingly adept at reeling in contested passes for a player his size.
What about his weaknesses?
Obviously the lack of size and strength. His early entry into the draft was somewhat surprising since I for one didn’t necessarily foresee him being drafted at receiver, thinking perhaps he had a shot if he switched to cornerback, which he played in a pinch. I wouldn’t say he underachieved; his only year as a full starter was with Kelly Bryant throwing him the ball, so of course the passing game wasn’t Clemson’s strength. But Ray-Ray didn’t provide a downfield threat from his field receiver position, and was thus used primarily on screens, jet sweeps, and slants more often than not. If he can slip a tackle he can gain serious yards, but with a 4.5 40-yard dash doesn’t have elite straight-line speed and is not likely to break any tackles in the NFL.
Which pro would you compare Ray-Ray to?
I don’t follow the NFL closely enough (blasphemy I know) to make a confident comparison, but I will say the most optimistic comparison is to Emmanuel Sanders.
Do you think the Bills are a good fit for him?
It will depend on how the Bills plan to utilize him. He’s certainly not a number 1 or even number 2 receiver, so for the Bills to weaponize McCloud on offense they will need to get creative, sending him in and out of the backfield on jet motion. If he contributes as a receiver at all it will come on screens or on slants, and it’s on the Bills to find ways to be creative with him underneath. I think an impact is far more likely on special teams, where he should compete immediately at punt return.
What is your favorite in game Ray-Ray memory?
This one is easy. Before Ray-Ray, it seemed Clemson went 5 straight years fair-catching every single punt. It isn’t hyperbole to say this is the best punt return we’ve enjoyed in at least a decade. And without this response to an early NC State score this past fall, Clemson may not have outlasted NC State in what turned out to be the division title game: