The Buffalo Bills wide receiver position has undergone a major overhaul in the last 12 months. Pieces have been added, removed, re-added, replaced, and rearranged to get to this point and while we are pretty darn sure it’s going to be better than 2018, there are a ton of questions. Let’s take a closer look at what happened on Friday night and over the course of training camp.
Brown was able to hook up with Josh Allen on two catches for 35 yards on consecutive plays in the two-minute offense before the half. He’s been outstanding in training camp and could be in line for a career year as he develops chemistry with Josh Allen. Brown is going to get those highlight-reel plays Robert Foster snagged down the stretch in 2018.
This guy could catch 100 passes in 2019 and it wouldn’t shock anyone. He is always open underneath. He only saw two targets on Friday with the likely culprit for his low numbers being a benching. He fumbled after his lone catch, something for which Sean McDermott has been sitting players. He was wide open on a third down where Josh Allen misfired a pass behind him. There is still trust and chemistry there, and he’ll be fine come Week 1.
Jones saw 28 snaps on offense and played with all three quarterbacks on Friday night. He even saw time on special teams, a position he hasn’t been in since joining the NFL. That’s a big pill to swallow for the former second rounder but he said all the right things after the game. He has a good relationship with Allen and he’s a former high pick, so he’ll be on the roster, but the fact that he was relegated to the deeper part of the game on Friday and probably will play in the final preseason doesn’t look good for the third-year player.
Like Foster, Roberts only played two snaps on offense but he’s been working consistently with the first-team offense, unlike Foster. Roberts also has special-teams capabilities and a guaranteed contract. He’ll be on the roster and has been working at receiver a lot. How much will he see on Sundays remains to be seen.
The clear winner from Friday night and the seemingly clear sixth WR right now (or fifth?) is Williams, who outmuscled a Detroit Lions defender for a touchdown catch on Friday night. Not only that, he played 37 snaps—the most on the team—and played with all three QBs. That’s right, he received first-team reps in red zone work with Josh Allen. (Sorry, Robert Foster.) He caught all three targets, is a willing blocker, and hasn’t fumbled yet. I was the first to tamp down the love for Williams when he was signed from the CFL saying it was going to be a long road but he’s steadily navigated that lane to get into this position.
While I argued with folks who said Robert Foster should be the number one receiver on the team, I didn’t expect him to fall this far. Foster played two snaps on offense Friday. Two. He did play some-special teams reps, as they try to carve out a roster role for him. Sure, he had chemistry with Josh Allen last year, but is that enough for him to make the roster when he’s been phased out? It wouldn’t shock me at all if Robert Foster was a roster lock right now or if he was off the roster a week from now.
I think McKenzie is the next guy up right now and if Buffalo keeps seven receivers, he could find a way onto the 53-man roster, but it would be hard for him to see the 46-man game day squad. He saw only one snap on Friday (incidentally it was a gadget play where he scored a touchdown) just like the previous week where he only saw one play. That’s not how the coaches operate with guys they think could make a big impact. He muffed a punt, too. At this point, he’s probably on the outside looking in in favor of a special-teams contributor like Maurice Alexander or Senorise, or a guy with more upside at another position.
Ray-Ray McCloud III
He was in a constant battle with McKenzie and Williams, but McCloud’s skill set is redundant with Beasley and Roberts and the other smurfs. Even his highlight catch on Friday had to include him losing the ball to the defender and then re-securing it. He would be a fine practice-squad candidate. He played 29 offensive snaps and four special-teams snaps, so they got a good look at him, but it wasn’t the best impression.
David Sills V
He provided size the Bills didn’t have, and still could on their practice squad, but he’s done so little to separate himself from other receivers on the roster. A year in the nutrition program could make him a serviceable depth player. He was fifth on the team with 18 snaps Friday, but saw zero on special teams.
Another practice-squad candidate, Phillips didn’t see time on special teams Friday. He’s out despite 11 offensive snaps.
Victor Bolden, Jr.
Bolden lost a fumble on special teams and didn’t play at all on offense.
Easley had zero snaps on offense or special teams. He’ll get some run in the fourth preseason game, but it looks as if he won’t make an impact on the race for the practice squad.