When the Buffalo Bills drafted TCU wide receiver Kolby Listenbee in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, many fans saw it as the writing on the wall for another of the team's speed receivers, the oft-injured Marquise Goodwin.
Logically, it makes sense. Goodwin has yet to live up to the typical expectations of a third-round pick, and at this point in his career he has been a bit of a disappointment. He's been unable to stay healthy, which caused him to miss games. He has shown no visible improvements as a receiver, and the drafting of Listenbee has made Goodwin expendable in Buffalo.
Goodwin and Listenbee are basically the same player. As a prospect coming out of Texas in 2013, Goodwin, like Listenbee, offered a game centered around speed. He was very raw as route-runner, and needed refinement as a receiver. He was one-dimensional, seen as someone that could be used in the vertical game, but who needed to develop his game in the short and intermediate levels.
Off the football field, both men were track stars in college, racking up tons of collegiate awards and accolades. They each ran the fastest 40-yard dash time at their respective Combine. Each man has also come in to the league with questions on whether or not they can run the full route tree, show reliable hands, and dispel the notion that they are "track guys" and not football players.
Basically, Whaley drafted Goodwin 2.0. The major difference is that Listenbee has better ball skills, is bigger at 6'0" and 197 (compared to the sub-5'9", 179-pound Goodwin), and was more productive in college.
I know it sounds like I'm being hard on Goodwin and Listenbee, but to their credit, going from the track to the football field is a tough transition to make. T.J. Graham, another former Bills wide receiver drafted for his speed, came into the league with a similar background, and he struggled as well. It should be no surprise for Bills fans like myself to be skeptical.
Both players will tell you that they are football players who happens to run track, and not the other way around. That's easy to say, but hard to prove. If Listenbee wants to prove he's a football player and take advantage of his opportunity to eventually supplant Goodwin as the team's deep threat, he will have to work on his game and his body to stay healthy, and make a commitment in the offseason to focus on football. As for Goodwin, he's on his last leg. Another injury could be the end of his time here in Buffalo.