The Buffalo Bills have a wealth of talent at wide receiver, and throughout training camp, they’ve shown off that great depth in practice after practice. Several of the receivers are flashing, and it’s going to be tough come roster cut time.
Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis are locked in as the top two receivers, and until battling some soreness this week, Isaiah McKenzie had a stranglehold on the slot receiver job. Rookie receiver Khalil Shakir has also had a great start to camp and is looking like a fifth-round steal. If he can win the punt returner job, he’ll be active on game days, too, which could boost his usage on offense.
One name folks have been talking about as a surprise cut is Jamison Crowder. The veteran missed most of the first week of camp with soreness but since his return has shown why he is on the team. His route-running has been on display all week and he’s received more chances with McKenzie and Shakir sidelined with their own muscle soreness. Crowder made standout plays on both Sunday and Monday according to multiple beat reporters and he’s receiving the opportunity to work with Josh Allen and the starters.
Crowder’s salary is already fully guaranteed, so they will actually be spending money to cut him, so he already has a foot in the door. His ability to play inside and outside is also valuable, as the Bills have had three outside wide receivers play more than 50% of the team snaps in each of the last two seasons (that’s in addition to Cole Beasley in the slot).
Another player stacking great days at training camp is Isaiah Hodgins, who balled out on Sunday and Monday. Hodgins has frequently performed well in Bills training camp throughout his career, but has been shut out when it comes to actually making the roster. Multiple beat reporters have raved about him on consecutive days this week.
Hodgins has also caught the attention (pun fully intended) of the quarterback throwing him the most passes in camp, too. It gets a bit weird, but stick with it.
“As a quarterback I always say you look out at your receivers, and you get this little tingly feeling with guys you want to throw the ball to,” Case Keenum said Monday. “[Hodgins is] one of those guys. I get the tingly feeling.”
On my most recent 53-man roster projection, I had the Bills keeping Jake Kumerow and Tavon Austin as their sixth and seventh receivers, with Austin being the punt returner. If Shakir wins that job or even is close enough to Austin for the veteran to be cut, it could open a roster spot for someone like Hodgins to make the squad. Kumerow has the inside track to a roster spot due to his special teams abilities.
With that being said, the Bills have been able to get Hodgins through waivers and onto the practice squad on multiple occasions before. They may not need to use a 53-man roster spot on him at all.