The Bills got the speedy receiver they needed, but they went off the board a bit to do so.
When Buffalo moved up two picks in the third round, no one expected that it was for North Carolina State WR T.J. Graham, PFW’s 44th-ranked wideout.
Graham is a speedster, clocking in with a 4.36 40-yard dash at the Combine. He even qualified for the NCAA indoor track championships in 2010 in two sprints. Graham has the stretch-the-field speed Buffalo is lacking, and GM Buddy Nix said he would play on the outside.
Last season, when defenses got aggressive with WR Stevie Johnson and eliminated some of the Bills’ short routes, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was left without a reliable weapon. Donald Jones struggled with injuries and his hands, Marcus Easley and Roscoe Parrish were placed on injured reserve and David Nelson is purely a slot receiver.
Graham, though, has small hands and measured in at only 188 pounds. He will need to bulk up a bit and prove to be durable, something the Bills’ WR position clearly struggled with last season.
The Bills still have high hopes for Jones and Easley, and veterans Derek Hagan and David Clowney should factor in the training-camp competition, but Graham is likely now the fastest receiver on the squad.
Roscoe Parrish had been the team’s speed demon out of the slot, and he was very productive in 2010, his first season with Chan Gailey. Yet, Parrish couldn’t stay on the field and wasn’t re-signed. Gailey apparently wanted another burner for the offense.
Fitzpatrick doesn’t necessarily have the ideal arm for a vertical threat like Graham, but it will force defenses to stay honest if Graham can develop and earn a starting spot on the field.
Through three picks, Nix and Gailey have addressed the Bills' top three needs — cornerback, offensive tackle and wide receiver — and they needed only one trade, which had them moving up two spots, to get it done.