The Buffalo Bills began overhauling their wide receiver group last season. At first, general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott prioritized big-bodied receivers who could win one-on-ones. Essentially, they wanted players who were so big that they fit the stereotypical “open when he’s covered” mantra. They assumed that players like Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes would be able to win contested catches all over the field.
(Narrator: They assumed incorrectly.)
Midway through the season, Buffalo began prioritizing smaller, shiftier players at the receiver position—players who could gain separation in man coverage and use speed to make plays. One could say that the first player added who really fit this profile was actually a draft pick of theirs in 2018, but that player quickly fell out of favor with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
In our latest edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile that draft choice—a player whose role seems to have been usurped by other new additions to the Bills’ roster.
Name: Ray-Ray McCloud III
Height/Weight: 5’9” 190 lbs.
Age: 22 (23 on 10/15/19)
Experience/Draft: 1; drafted in the sixth round (187 overall) by the Bills in the 2018 NFL Draft
Acquired: Drafted by Bills
Financial situation (per Spotrac): McCloud enters the second year of his four-year rookie deal, a pact that totals $2,619,824, $159,824 of which is guaranteed. In 2019, he will carry a cap hit of $609,956 if he makes the team; Buffalo will be on the hook for $119,868 in dead cap money if he is cut.
2018 Recap: McCloud played in ten games as a rookie, and he even started one (Buffalo’s 27-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3). He was targeted six times, making five catches for 36 yards. He added two rushes for a total of four yards. He returned one kick for 18 yards, and he returned four punts for 20 yards. He fumbled twice on returns against the Houston Texans in Week 6, which is also the last time he took a snap on special teams. Once the Bills signed Isaiah McKenzie, McCloud’s role on offense dwindled significantly, as he only played on 13 total snaps after the bye week.
Positional outlook: McCloud was once a unique player among Buffalo’s wideouts, as one of the few small receivers who could create separation with his speed. However, Buffalo signed Cole Beasley this offseason to go with McKenzie, a waiver-wire add from the Denver Broncos last year, making McCloud’s skill set less unique. The team also has Victor Bolden Jr., Nick Easley, and Andre Roberts to play in the slot or return kicks. Buffalo’s other receivers are Zay Jones, John Brown, Robert Foster, Duke Williams, DaMari Scott, David Sills V, and Cam Phillips.
2019 Offseason: McCloud was name-checked in Chris Brown’s OTA report from May 21, as the wideout caught a ten-yard pass during a two-minute drill. That shows that he’ll have a chance to make the roster if he can impress early. Little else has been written about McCloud.
2019 Season outlook: I’d be very surprised if McCloud is on the 53-man roster this season. He lost his role to McKenzie last season, and Buffalo signed Beasley, who is a far better receiver than both of those players. With Roberts set as a return specialist, and Robert Foster, John Brown, and Zay Jones likely parts of the top-five, that leaves McCloud battling with players like Duke Williams, David Sills V, and others who either have better hands or better size than he does.