The Bills have brought their fair share of wide receivers on board this offseason, but that doesn’t mean they won’t look to address the position in the draft. I don’t expect them to use an early pick on the position due to the other more pressing needs but a mid round pick would definitely be worth the investment.
It has been my opinion that the passing scheme drawn up by Greg Roman isn’t the most complex route tree and definitely isn’t Xs and Os driven. Roman’s scheme requires receivers that are able to use their route running or physical talents to get open. Roman has his do it all receiver in Sammy Watkins, but the Bills need to find his complement not just for 2016 but also for beyond next season. A player that could be a huge weapon in the Bills offense is California’s Kenny Lawler.
Lawler is 6’2″, 203 pounds and he has a unique body type. He is about two inches taller than Robert Woods but has extremely long arms measuring in at 33 1/8 inches, and really big hands at 10 1/2 inches. He timed slower than Woods in forty time, vertical and broad jump so he doesn’t seem to be as explosive, but when you turn on film he looks quicker than Woods.
Lawler has played in a total of 34 games and he finished his career with 143 catches, 1,706 and 27 receiving touchdowns. In 2015, he hauled in 52 catches for 658 yards and 13 touchdowns which was good for the 8th most in the nation according to Real Football Network. Ten of those 13 touchdowns were in the red zone, so he offers an aspect to the receiving core that would be welcomed by offensive coordinator Roman.
Look at how he stabs inside which causes the defensive back to become flat footed, releases outside then uses his reach to snatch the ball for the touchdown.
Goff trusted that Lawler would come down with the ball no matter what. Lawler shows pretty spectacular body control on a lot of his catches. Here he climbs the ladder, snatches the ball with his hands and keeps it away from the defender. Against Texas he caught 6 balls for 79 yards and 2 TDs.
If you find ways to get the ball in his hands he can do some damage. Defensive coordinators were so worried that their corners would get burned inside the red zone they would play off coverage. So Cal would call a screen and let Lawler make plays with his legs.
The red shirt junior does have trouble against the press at times. He can get out muscled by physical cover corners. Like on this play, the corner is able to force Lawler to widen his route as they run down the field. He needs to keep tight to his route stem allowing at least three yards for Goff to throw him open outside.
If the defensive back is able to slow Kenny down during the release phase he can make up for it. He then can separate during the drive phase or most assuredly during the catch phase with his reach. He caught 43 of his passes on 1st or second down and turned them into 1st downs 79% of the time, talk about easy yards.
But more times than not he can beat press coverage with his quick first step and shiftiness.
Kenny Lawler is a great combination of height, size, speed, quickness and he has a tremendous catch radius. His deceptiveness within the drive phase of the route makes it difficult to read which direction he is going to break. That allows him to separate at the top of the route. So although he lacks the straight line track speed that many fans love, he gets open in different ways. If the defensive back does a good job of staying with him, he is still open because he has the ability to catch the ball away from his body with his long arms and reliable hands. He only dropped 5 passes all of 2015.
Sure, @K_law2nice can catch with two hands.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 15, 2016
Kenny Lawler was watched closely by wide receiver coach Sanjay Lal, Bills Director of College Scouting Kelvin Fisher and Doug Whaley at the Cal pro day. I believe that the Bills are targeting this player in the fifth round and his skill set would be a great addition to a Bills passing game that needs to improve in 2016.
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