The Buffalo Bills focused on the trenches with their first four picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, going with two defensive ends and two offensive tackles. Their first of three picks in the sixth round broke that trend with the selection of wide receiver Marquez Stevenson. Stevenson joins a strong position group with some depth, likely meaning a tough road for a late-round pick to stick. As we tend to do, let’s dive into some film.
First off, you probably noticed Marquez Stevenson trying to cause some confusion right from the snap with his footwork. Despite limited film to review, this was easily seen as a habit for Stevenson. At the end of the play, he cuts back around the defender while maintaining speed, and pivots to try to make the catch. He’s not successful but does manage to benefit from a flag.
This was a hard hit, but Stevenson remained in the game otherwise I wouldn’t be using this play. I didn’t see any evidence of reluctance from Stevenson in making tough catches. He had to have known he was getting hit on this and other targets but he puts his energy into the catch rather than self preservation. To be sure, that’s not something that’s 100% positive in all situations. There were quite a few plays with Stevenson playing over the short, middle of the field which would take advantage of that trait.
This was not the norm for Stevenson but shows off decent vision and elusiveness as he weaves through traffic for some extra yards. Stevenson’s 4.48 time in the 40 is a tick behind Isaiah McKenzie, and a look at the rest of his measurables suggests a little less agility and overall athleticism than McKenzie. The eye test seems to back that up.
Marquez Stevenson comes across as a very willing blocker. At 180 lbs, he’s at a disadvantage compared to most receivers in the size department. However, attitude can make up for a bit of weight and I could see Stevenson faring okay against defensive backs.
Sometimes blocking effectively is nothing more than existing at the right place at the right time. The play went a different direction but if the ball had gone to #11, Stevenson’s block would have been critical. I like the subtlety of the block as he slips that shoulder in pretty casually.
This was a practice rep for the Senior Bowl. I like this play to show that Stevenson’s spider chart linked above is a bit “meh” in many respects, but his on-field agility/athleticism seem to show a bit better than the measures might suggest.
Marquez Stevenson is a smaller wide receiver with a bit of shiftiness to him. That’s the Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie models on the Bills. A strict pre-draft numbers comparison actually would put Stevenson ahead of Beasley in many measures and fairly comparable to McKenzie. As Beasley highlights though, what you show on the field is what matters.
There’s a good deal to like with Stevenson and he does have some experience returning kicks. But the Bills have a loaded receiver room. Marquez Stevenson will need a mountain of a showing to make the active roster, projecting as a practice-squad candidate for Buffalo.