Friday, March 29, 2013
Eight in the Box: WR status check
By James Walker
» NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South
How does each team look at wide receiver, and what still needs to be done?
Buffalo Bills: The Bills are decent -- but not great -- at wide receiver. The biggest thing in Buffalo's favor is the team has a consistent threat in Steve Johnson. He is the only receiver currently in the AFC East with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Johnson may not be a game-breaker, but he is productive. The biggest issue for the Bills is getting someone to successfully pair with Johnson. Buffalo let go of slot receiver David Nelson and former starter Donald Jones, who signed with the Patriots. The Bills still have high hopes for 2012 third-round pick T.J. Graham, who was inconsistent as a rookie. Buffalo still needs to find a more consistent starter via the draft or free agency.
Miami Dolphins: Entering the offseason, this was Miami's biggest weakness. Several weeks later, it's one of the team's deepest areas. Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland did a solid job of landing wide receivers in free agency. First, Ireland re-signed 2012 leading receiver Brian Hartline. Then, Ireland went out and landed former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Mike Wallace and former St. Louis Rams receiver Brandon Gibson. The Dolphins are now four-deep at the position with Wallace, Hartline, Gibson and slot receiver Davone Bess. Add to the group new pass-catching tight end Dustin Keller, and you have a formidable cast of skill players around second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
New England Patriots: The Patriots lost two starting receivers from last season. They cut Brandon Lloyd and allowed Wes Welker to leave to the Denver Broncos in free agency. New England signed Danny Amendola to replace Welker in the slot, but the outside positions remain open. As we mentioned earlier, the Patriots signed Jones from Buffalo. New England also added 10-year veteran Michael Jenkins this week. But is that enough? The additions of Jones and Jenkins most likely reduces the chances of Lloyd's return to New England. The only exception would be if Lloyd got very little interest elsewhere and would be willing to re-sign with the Patriots on a team-friendly contract. New England also could take a receiver high in the NFL draft. Some of the possibilities include Keenan Allen of Cal, Baylor's Terrance Williams or Aaron Dobson of Marshall.
New York Jets: The Jets have questions at wide receiver, but the hope in New York is that answers are already on the roster. Former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes is returning from a season-ending foot injury, and the Jets are counting on Holmes to still be a No. 1 receiver. Also, 2012 second-round pick Stephen Hill has size and speed but was inconsistent as a rookie. The Jets expect Hill to make the jump in his second season. If all goes well with these two players, New York should be decent at receiver. Jeremy Kerley proved last year that he's solid. But Kerley is best in the slot. The Jets need a little luck and good health at the position to be competitive in 2013. Adding another receiver via the draft for depth purposes wouldn't be a bad idea.