Why Robert Woods Should Be The 2013 NFL Draft’s Best Wide Receiver

Getting Open

Woods does a terrific job of creating separation. He is a very smooth route-runner with quick feet, and by making quick, precise breaks in the middle of his route, he can confuse an opponent long enough to gain separate and give his quarterback a target to throw to.

If you’re a cornerback who has trouble defending double moves, then Woods is sure to give you trouble. On both the inside-outside and outside-inside double moves, Woods does a great job selling his initial step then quickly and subtly cutting to get by his defender.

This can often lead to big plays downfield, such as the following play versus Syracuse:

On this play, Woods quickly fakes the defender out, allowing him to get to the cornerback’s outside. Even with only slight separation, Woods proceeds to use his terrific ball timing and body control to make a leaping grab tight to the boundary line, land with both feet in bounds and then finish the play by stretching out to the pylon for a 29-yard touchdown.

Woods will not separate from NFL cornerbacks in a straight-line footrace, but he will get open plenty thanks to the quickness in his route-running.

Creating Big Plays

Woods does not have quite the speed and open-field running ability that Austin and Patterson have, but he often gets mischaracterized as a possession receiver as a result. While he is the draft class’ best possession receiver, he is also a dynamic playmaker who can make defenses pay in a single play.

As previously demonstrated, Woods is a skilled downfield receiver who can make the tough catch downfield for a big play, but the strength of his game is actually turning short passes into bigger gains. He is not as explosively quick as Austin, but he is known for his subtle, fluid cuts that can make him a tough receiver to tackle. He is not a true burner, but he has enough speed to take advantage of open field in front of him and run by defenders chasing him.

One area where Woods excels is making plays off of screen passes. He accelerates quickly, makes tacklers miss with his open-field quickness and has good ball carrier vision.

On another great play against Syracuse (below), he demonstrated just how well he could make a play off a screen pass. He took the screen all the way from one sideline to another, making multiple defenders miss with his speed and quickness and covered considerable ground before eventually diving at the end of his run to convert 3rd and 10.

Versatility

The versatility of Austin and Patterson is well-noted, but Woods is a versatile playmaker in his own right.

Woods can line up both outside with his ability to leap up for passes and make downfield receptions, and inside as a slot receiver with his route-running, quickness, catching over the middle and his ability to turn short passes into bigger plays. He has also shown the ability to make plays off of end-around runs, and has experience returning punts.

The Bills will be able to use Woods in a variety of ways, all of which increases his value on top of his near-complete game as a receiver.

Few Flaws

Woods may not be the flashiest receiver in the draft class, but he has the fewest flaws.

He may not be a terrific deep receiver at the next level because he does not have great size and speed, but he should excel at getting open for short to intermediate receptions, and has the open-field quickness to turn short passes into big plays.

His biggest weakness may be his physical strength. He has some issues breaking off of press coverage, and can sometimes get bumped off his routes by bigger defensive backs. That said, he does not shy away from contact and is frequently successful at getting open because he continues to work through contact.

Overall, there is no reason why Woods should not earn an immediate spot in the Bills’ lineup. He should immediately be one of the Bills’ two best receivers along with Stevie Johnson, and can play in any package as he can be utilized both outside and in the slot. He also could get a shot to unseat Leodis McKelvin at punt returner, though he is unlikely to be an upgrade in that  capacity.

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Tags: Cordarrelle Patterson, Deandre Hopkins, Justin Hunter, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin

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