BBD Staff Writer: Glenn Gifford
When Brandon Kaufman entered the 2013 NFL draft as a junior out of Eastern Washington University, he expected to be drafted.
Kaufman slipped out of the draft due to a very deep class of wide receivers, but was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills.
If you can brave the bright red turf of Eastern Washington University and watch Kaufman’s film, you might see the Buffalo Bills have potentially found another David Nelson. Let’s take a look at Kaufman, an early favorite among undrafted free agents to make the Bills’ 53-man roster.
The first thing that strikes you about Kaufman is his size. He is 6’5” and weighs 216 pounds (Nelson, for comparison’s sake, is 6’5″, 215). He has big hands and long arms and looks every bit the part of a wide receiver.
Kaufman’s career numbers as an Eastern Washington Eagle are impressive. Kaufman caught 221 passes for 3,731 yards and 33 touchdowns in 42 college games. He has been labeled as a red zone threat because of his height.
He has soft hands and was very consistent throughout his career at Eastern Washington. He also played well and put up good numbers against some better BCS schools. This is important to note, as many Kaufman critics may cite the fact that he played in the Big Sky conference, and that the level of competition he faced was inferior. Kaufman fared well against schools like Washington, Washington State, Idaho and a Duke Williams-led Nevada defense.
By no means will his speed strike fear into the hearts of NFL-caliber defensive backs, but when combined with his size and sure hands, Kaufman could definitely be seen as an individual who can create an on-field mismatch.
As mentioned earlier, Kaufman does have a few knocks that some feel may prevent him from being successful at the next level.
Many feel that Kaufman will not have break-away speed at the NFL level. This lack of speed will make it very difficult for Kaufman to create any kind of separation at the next level.
While Bills second-round pick Robert Woods does not have exceptional speed either, his polished route running allows him to create separation. Kaufman is not nearly as gifted as Woods in this area and may struggle.
The level of competition Kaufman played against was not elite. Eastern Washington is not the Mecca of College football. He put up very good numbers against schools that are just not seen every Saturday on national television. Sadly, the production Kaufman achieved may be overlooked by the level of competition. He is not a household name from a nationally-ranked program. Some may attest his success to the quality of his competition.
Kaufman has also had a few bites from the injury bug. He missed the majority of the 2011 season with a hand injury followed by knee surgery. Although he appears to have bounced back from both of those injuries very well, many worry about his injury history. It should also be noted that he missed his senior year of high school due to a knee injury. As a result, Eastern Washington was one of the only schools that offered Kaufman a scholarship.
Kaufman immediately made noise on his first day of rookie mini-camp. He caught a touchdown pass and also received “Catch of the Day” honors at buffalobills.com. This, however, is only one practice, without equipment or veterans. Nobody is ready to anoint Brandon Kaufman as a lock for the Bills’ roster at this juncture.
Aside from the highlights, WGR’s Joe Buscaglia noted that Kaufman had a few drops and he struggled with separation:
The long and lanky Kaufman (6-foot-5, 215-pounds) stood out as the tallest skill position player on the field. He also made the catch of the day, jumping up for a high pass from EJ Manuel while in stride, and having the ball sticking to his right hand like glue before he corralled it in to his body. Through the rest of the day though Kaufman did have trouble with some drops and didn’t appear to possess the elite athleticism to gain separation consistently. It’s easily understood for a taller receiver, but Kaufman was a bit slower in and out of his breaks and had some wasted movement. He certainly is an interesting case for his size alone, however.
If anything, Brandon Kaufman is a player to watch throughout both mini and training camps. He is a quicker version of David Nelson. He has good hands and can create problems for a defense. What remains to be seen is whether or not Kaufman’s expected limitations coming into camp can be overcome with coaching and hard work.
If Kaufman can stay healthy and remain consistent, he could be a useful weapon in Nathaniel Hackett’s offense. Stay tuned Bills fans!