Brought in during the crucial 2019 offseason, Cole Beasley’s three years into a four-year, $29 million contract. His time with the team has proven productive, with a career year in receiving yards in 2020 and clutch performances in many of the team’s playoff games during that stretch. However, Beasley will turn 33 years old this offseason and he’s in the final year of his contract. He’s also coming off the least-successful season of his Bills career. Although general manager Brandon Beane has promised to bring Beasley back next season, Buffalo would be wise to target a replacement for him in the 2022 Draft. The slot receiver role in the team’s offense is vital in moving the chains on third downs and in must-have situations. The team can’t be left in the lurch once Beasley’s time is up.
Luckily for the Bills, this draft has its fair share of potential slot receiver targets up and down the draft. Below are just some of prospects who the team is likely to show a level of interest.
- Garrett Wilson (Ohio State)
- Chris Olave (Ohio State)
- Jahan Dotson (Penn State)
This group of players offers a little bit more than simply a possession wideout, and all three will likely be selected in the first round. Wilson is probably the least polished route-runner of this group, but his upside is high thanks to his physicality, exceptional catch range despite standing only 6’0” and he has underrated long speed. Wilson’s teammate Olave is much more of a route technician, with the intelligence needed to diagnose a defense and potential to play the role of “quarterback friendly” wideout. Just don’t expect him to out-physical defenders. Dotson is the smallest player on this list, but he offers much more versatility thanks to his elite speed. He’s always a threat to beat defenses deep. He can also fall back on his quick cuts to threaten the underneath areas. He’s a weapon at all three levels.
- John Metchie III (Alabama)
- Khalil Shakir (Boise State)
- Calvin Austin (Memphis)
Wilson’s teammate Olave is much more of a route technician, with the intelligence needed to diagnose a defense and potential to play the role of “quarterback friendly” wideout. Just don’t expect him to out-physical defenders. Dotson is the smallest player on this list, but he offers much more versatility thanks to his elite speed. He’s always a threat to beat defenses deep. He can also fall back on his quick cuts to threaten the underneath areas. He’s a weapon at all three levels.A Senior Bowl standout, Shakir was massively productive at Boise because he caught almost everything thrown anywhere within his vicinity. Quicker than fast—which is exactly what you want out of the slot—Austin has the same downsides as Dotson as a player who might only be about 5’8” or so. Nonetheless, he looks physical enough to stand up to the rigors of the NFL.
- Kyle Philips (UCLA)
- Skyy Moore (Western Michigan)
- Ty Fryfogle (Indiana)
Phillips has a lot of tools in his ‘routing toolbox’ but sometimes gets too cute in looking to uncover from defenders and throws in too many moves. You also admire his selflessness in how the offense asks him to block defenders. If Moore tests well during the combine, as I suspect he will, he could rise up this list a bit. He has a killer stutter-step move and looks like a solid developmental prospect at the position. Psychically, Fryfogle has good height and can block, but he’s not sudden in his breaks and has a lot of contested catches—which means he doesn’t create much separation on his own.
- All-22 Review: Cole Beasley’s 2021 season
- All-22 Review: Isaiah McKenzie’s 2021 season
- Salary cap consequences of releasing Cole Beasley
- Contract projection for Isaiah McKenzie
- In-house replacement options for McKenzie/Beasley
- Free agents available at slot receiver
- NFL Draft options at slot receiver
- Opinion: Bills should use multiple tools to improve slot WR position this offseason