While the Buffalo Bills of the 2010s had a wealth of talented running backs, wide receiver was a different beast. The team was always on the hunt for a “number-one wide receiver,” never really finding one they could count on. The previous decade was led by Eric Moulds and Lee Evans, but how did the squad from the ‘teens measure up? Let’s review.
Probably the closest thing the Bills had to a star receiver during this era, Johnson burst onto the scene in his third pro season with an 82/1073/10 receiving slash. He set a team record by recording 1,000 receiving yards in three straight seasons from 2010-2012. The former seventh-round pick was one of the rare players to beat Darrelle Revis in his prime, thanks to his shifty route-running style. After the 2013 season, the Bills traded Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers during the same draft that they selected Sammy Watkins.
Overall stat line: 524 targets, 289 receptions, 3,720 yards (7.10 Y/Tgt), 55.2 catch percent, 26 TDs.
Woods joined the Bills as a second-round pick in 2013, and played four seasons for bad offenses as the epitome of a “number-two receiver.” A rock-solid route runner and high-quality run blocker, Woods never transcended his bad situation in Buffalo. Each year he caught between 40 and 65 passes for 550 to 700 yards, with no more than five touchdowns. Still, for Bills receivers, the totals put him second in receptions and in a dead heat for second in receiving yards during the decade. After entering free agency, Woods returned to Los Angeles, joined a much more exciting offense under Sean McVay, and saw his stats explode for the next three years with the Rams.
Overall stat line: 345 targets, 203 receptions, 2,451 yards (7.10 Y/Tgt), 58.8 catch percent, 12 TDs.
It was always going to be hard to match the expectations of a fourth-overall pick that was the centerpiece of a massive draft-day trade, and Watkins flashed greatness with the Bills but couldn’t deliver on that promise. Injuries and (reportedly) a devil-may-care attitude led the team to eventually trade him after three seasons. That he’s still on this list is a testament to his talent. He was the team’s leading receiver in 2014 (his rookie year) and 2015, and in that 2015 season, averaged 80.5 receiving yards per game. That’s a better number than any season by this century’s Bills except for Eric Moulds in 2002 and Lee Evans in 2006.
Overall stat line: 276 targets, 153 receptions, 2,459 yards (8.91 Y/Tgt), 55.4 catch percent, 17 TDs.
Brown earns his spot on this list despite only playing for the team in the final year of the decade, because that season was one of the five best performances for any wideout who played with the Bills since 2010. Signed to build up a respectable array of weapons to work with the young Josh Allen, Brown delivered with 72 catches, 1060 yards, and six touchdowns. In the playoffs, he added four more catches for 50 yards. He’s not eligible as a quarterback, but Brown also completed both of his two pass attempts (one in the playoffs) for trick-play touchdowns.
Overall stat line: 115 targets, 72 receptions, 1,060 yards (9.22 Y/Tgt), 62.6 catch percent, 6 TDs (plus 1 passing TD)
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Buffalo Bills 2010s All-Decade team: wide receiver 1
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