Robert Woods Could Help The Lions’ Passing Game.
Robert Woods was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 2013 draft. They were hoping to get a number one receiver to propel their passing game into the stratosphere. The quarterbacks that have played for the Bills during that period have been horrendous. In 2013, the combination of Thad Lewis and E.J. Manuel split the season. 2014 saw Manuel and Kyle Orton at the pivot. In 2015, Manuel, Josh Johnson, and finally Tyrod Taylor threw the ball. Woods has been first or second in the Bills wide receiver group every season in receptions and yardage. I do not believe he has been their problem.
How Does Robert Woods Fit?
Woods has dropped nine passes in four seasons on 345 targets, which gives him a drop rate of 2.6%. Any receiver being brought in to play for the Lions needs to have great hands. Matthew Stafford’s tendency to rifle balls into tight spaces demands a lot of his pass catchers. Robert Woods has been playing the possession receiver role for them during his entire four year run in Buffalo. He brings toughness to the field despite his slender stature, often playing through injuries. He is also a ferocious blocker in the running game, another area the Lions need to improve their performance.
Woods runs great routes and is plenty fast, but more dangerous on the inside than out. He consistently creates separation and thrives against physical corners. In week nine Woods put on a clinic against the Seattle Seahawks, with ten receptions for 162 yards against the “legion of boom.” That was with Tyrod Taylor missing him on what would have been a 31 yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Why Might Robert Woods Be Available?
The first reason is that despite his positive traits, Woods has been disappointing to the Bills. The second round pick has never topped 700 yards, or reached 70 catches. The Bills are 25th in the NFL in available cap space, and have brought in a new coaching staff. He is also not the biggest receiver on the market available at 6’0 190 pounds. That is a little undersized for a player that makes his money in the violent areas of the field. Woods plays through his injuries but he does get dinged up over the course of a season and has missed 7 games over his four seasons. In short, Robert Woods is a good player but he is far from perfect. Woods has not been a red zone demon, never topping five touchdowns in a season.
The Bottom Line For Robert Woods
Woods can bring the Lions a third receiver that can step up to be more in the event of an injury. He is not going to break the bank, coming off an injury filled season with limited production and could be a longer term option than some of the higher priced alternatives. Woods has never played in an offense with a good quarterback, or a dedication to throwing the ball. He has a great deal of untapped potential. I suspect that the Lions could have Woods for $4 million or less and would likely see a similar number of receptions to Anquan Boldin in the third wide receiver slot. Woods is faster, younger, and may grow into a bigger role, while many of the other free agent options are declining due to age.