Buffalo Bills Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 26, 2013

Solid Starter

Robert Woods, WR, USC – Round 2
The Bills had a risky draft class this year (general manager Buddy Nix last draft before his resignation), but Woods was may be the safest pick among them. That is saying something considering how regularly wide receivers from USC have been busts. That being said, Woods enters the NFL as a polished receiver who runs good routes and has good hands.

Woods production fell off as a junior compared to his massive 2011 season. He never looked as fast or as explosive as he was as a sophomore. A nagging ankle injury hampered Woods all offseason and into the fall. He had a lot less opportunities to make plays, too, as USC transitioned to Marqise Lee as its No. 1 Receiver. Plus the offensive line was a mess, which led to Matt Barkley pressing plays.

I think Woods is a nice complementary receiver to Stevie Johnson. They both can move the chains and are tough, crafty receivers. The biggest issue for Woods could be the signal-caller. The Bills may struggle to get the ball to Woods and Johnson. If Buffalo gets quality quarterback play, then Woods should turn into in a solid No. 2 receiver in the NFL.

Most Likely To Bust

E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State – Round 1
The Bills were desperate for a quarterback, but taking Manuel with the 16th-overall pick was a massive reach. I hope for the long-suffering Buffalo fans that I’m wrong. Manuel seems like a good young man, so for his sake I hope I’m wrong as well, but as a player I just don’t see it.

Manuel played in a weak conference and was never a dominant quarterback. He lost games he had no business losing and never developed as a passer. The senior only played against one good defense in 2012. Manuel was also completely dominated by Florida in an ugly loss for his final home game. He threw three interceptions, took a terrible sack and was ineffective against a unit comprised of NFL prospects.

I know scouts with other teams felt that Manuel was a massive reach and did not belong in the first round. Their teams did not have a first-round grade on him.

NFL coaches also told me that Florida State head coach and offensive guru Jimbo Fisher did not prepare Manuel well for the NFL. They said it was the same meager preparation that Christian Ponder received, and he has been a work in progress as a pro. Coaches said that Manuel too often would take off and run if his first read was covered. He never learned to quickly read through his progressions and find an open receiver. His field vision and decision-making need a ton of improvement.

Manuel has a great physical skill set, but so did JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf, two of the biggest busts in NFL draft history. I don’t believe that Manuel will turn into a franchise quarterback. To me, he looks like a career backup.

Potential Boom Pick

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas – Round 3
The Bills took a risky draft class with a lot of boom-or-bust potential. Goodwin is a perfect example of that. He has blazing speed after being a track star at Texas. Goodwin occasionally flashed big-play ability for the Longhorns on the football field, but it was never consistent. He was extremely fast at both the Senior Bowl and the Combine, but he illustrated that he is not a natural receiver.

The 5-foot-9, 183-pound Goodwin is awkward at catching passes. He needs to spend a lot of time developing his hands. The senior had 26 receptions for 340 yards and three touchdowns in 2012. On the ground, Goodwin ran for 140 yards on 13 carries with three scores, including a 64-yard touchdown run against Oregon State. He had more receiving production as a junior with 33 catches for 421 yards and two touchdowns. His sophomore (31-324-1) and freshman (30-279-1) years featured some production, too.

Goodwin needs to improve his hands and route-running in order to pan out in the NFL. If he can do that, the Bills can take advantage of his blazing speed and have a weapon at slot receiver who they can give some carries out of the backfield.

Future Depth Player

Duke Williams, S, Nevada – Round 4
The Bills lost George Wilson in free agency, and Williams should provide them with some good depth. Williams was a solid player for Nevada over the past two seasons. He didn’t dominate at the East-West Shrine, but he did look better at the Senior Bowl (one of the few players at both All-Star games). The Bills have some competitors at safety to start next to Jarius Byrd. Williams may not win a starting job, but he looks like a good depth player and special teams contributor.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

16. E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State: MILLEN UNCLE RUSLAN’S LOSER KIELBASA Grade
Only the Bills. With Geno Smith available, as well as Ryan Nassib, the head coach’s former quarterback, Buffalo, for whatever reason, chose E.J. Manuel. I guess the only tape of Manuel’s that Buddy Nix watched was the Senior Bowl. There’s no reason why Manuel should have been chosen No. 16, especially with the other quarterbacks remaining. Manuel is extremely raw and doesn’t have the same decision-making skills as the other signal-callers. He was terribly inconsistent throughout his career. He does project as a read-option quarterback, but he’s nowhere near as skilled as Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

41. Robert Woods, WR, USC: B Grade
Buddy Nix said he was going after quarterback and receiver early in the 2013 NFL Draft, and he was true to his word. Robert Woods was arguably the top wideout available according to consensus rankings, though it is hard to trust USC receivers. Woods does project as an obvious upgrade though, so it’s difficult to hate this pick.

46. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Oregon: C- Grade
Kiko Alonso was not the top linebacker on the board (Arthur Brown, maybe even Jon Bostic). Even worse, he has glaring off-the-field issues, so the Bills will regret this pick if Alonso gets into trouble.

78. Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas: C Grade
Marquise Goodwin is a very speedy receiver, but he’s a project. Unlike Tavon Austin, he’s not a real football player yet; he’s just an athlete. The Bills did need a speed element at wideout on their offense, but I feel like they picked Goodwin a round too early.

105. Duke Williams, S, Nevada: B Grade
Safety was not Buffalo’s most pressing need, but depth had to be acquired in the wake of George Wilson’s departure to Tennessee. Duke Williams was seen as a fourth-round prospect throughout, so this is the right range to take him.

143. Jonathan Meeks, S, Clemson: C- Grade
Another safety? I’m trying to figure out how this makes sense. Meeks was a borderline draftable prospect, so it’s not even like he was one of the top players available.

177. Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State: D Grade
Rian Lindell, who signed a 4-year contract last season, went 21-of-24 in 2012. That means Dustin Hopkins will probably be just a kickoff specialist. Wasted pick.

222. Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas: A- Grade
I thought the Bills would have addressed the tight end position earlier, but Chris Gragg is pretty good value in the seventh round. I had him in the fifth.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: C- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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