With the Zay Jones saga firmly in the rear-view mirror for the Buffalo Bills’ front office, there are still plenty of leftover question marks at the wide receiver position with just over a week remaining until the draft. With the Bills holding so many picks in this year’s draft (at least for the moment) it’s almost a given that at least one wideout will end up in a Bills uniform. Here’s a look at how the position group currently shakes out:
Kelvin Benjamin: Benjamin was one of the biggest in-season additions made by the Bills in recent history when Brandon Beane acquired him from the Panthers last October. Unfortunately for Benjamin, he battled injuries and really wasn’t a focal point of the offense when healthy. He’s a talented wideout, and can really help a young quarterback with his catch radius and ability to haul in some off-target throws. Aside from his ailments last year and the 2015 season, where he missed every game with a torn ACL, Benjamin has been a consistent presence in his team’s lineup. The 27-year-old caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie year with Beane and Sean McDemott in Carolina. If he can even come close to that production this season, the Bills will have a true, productive number one receiver for the first time in several years.
Zay Jones: Off-the-field issues aside, Jones simply has to be better for the Bills than he was his rookie year. Jones set all kinds of receiving records at East Carolina, and clearly showed Buffalo’s front office something when they drafted him in the second round. Now he has to translate that into the NFL. The drops were the obvious issue last year, but it also often seemed as though Jones was never on the same page as Tyrod Taylor. That’s another issue entirely, and with Brian Daboll’s new offensive system in place for a whole offseason, the hope is that Jones can find a groove in his offense. The next guy on this list may also impact Jones’s role on the Bills.
Jeremy Kerley: The veteran wideout has bounced around the league in recent years and was handed a four-game suspension last season, but I think his signing last week was a solid addition for the Bills. Kerley is a slot receiver and has speed as a punt returner, as well. However, his most productive season came in 2012, when he caught 56 passes for 827 yards as a member of the Jets. Since then, he’s struggled to find targets despite playing in nearly all of his teams’ games. The exception was in 2016, when he was targeted a career-high 115 times with the 49ers. For a guy like Kerley to be really successful in an offense, you need to have solid targets on the outside so that the slot will open up a bit. The Bills certainly could’ve done worse than signing a durable veteran to a cheap deal in mid-April.
Kerley’s experience in the slot, knowledge of coverages, ability to find soft spots in zones and adjust to inaccurate passes are traits that the #Bills will need in Daboll’s scheme.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 17, 2018
Andre Holmes/Rod Streater: I put these two ex-Raiders in the same line because it seems likely that only one will make Buffalo’s roster at the start of next season. Holmes signed a three-year, $6.5 million contract last offseason and followed it up with 12 catches for 120 yards in his first season in a Bills uniform. And while Holmes has never racked up yardage in his NFL career, the Bills certainly expected more from him. If he underperforms in training camp and the preseason, Holmes would be an easy player to cut. Streater, on the other hand, impressed in the team’s preseason games last year, but got injured and ended up sitting out all of last season. If either of these guys can step up and develop some chemistry with Buffalo’s quarterbacks, there is certainly room on the roster.
Kaelin Clay: Another former Carolina Panther, Clay has bounced around between the two organizations twice now in the past eight months. He caught a 28-yard pass against the Broncos while with the Bills in September, and while the production wasn’t there, Clay has some solid upside. He was a steady punt returner for Carolina last season and has two career return touchdowns to his name. His special teams play makes the 26-year-old less expendable, and if Clay can use his speed on the offensive side of the ball, he could turn into a decent deep threat option for Buffalo.
#Bills Play action pass to WR Kaelin Clay.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) March 21, 2018
Quan Brady/Brandon Reilly/Malachi Dupre: The best of the rest here on Buffalo’s roster. Unless one of these guys steps up in the offseason, they are destined for the team’s practice squad. Bills fans somewhat oddly fell in love with Reilly last August for some of his great play and chemistry with Nathan Peterman. He was rewarded with a call-up to Buffalo’s 53-man roster late in the season and does seem to posses some quality traits that could one day land him some snaps in the league. Bray has three career catches, while Dupre has yet to appear in an NFL game.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) July 14, 2017