TJ Graham Poised for a Breakout Season


Drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft, Buffalo Bills wide receiver TJ Graham set a career high in both receiving yards and touchdowns during the 2013 season. There is speculation that Graham will be on the bubble heading into the 2014 season, this is partially due to his production in 2013 or what some might call a lack of production. 2013 was a season in which injuries forced the Bills to start three different quarterbacks during the regular season, in addition the team lost a fourth quarterback to a season ending concussion during the preseason. Tight end Scott Chandler was the Bills most consistent pass catcher, wide receiver Stevie Johnson had his worst season since 2009 and the offense struggled to produce big plays consistently all season long.

Two years into Graham’s career it is still too early to fully draw a conclusion of whether or not he will be a successful NFL wide receiver. In comparison to former Bills receiver Eric Moulds, Graham has more catches, receiving yards and touchdowns than Moulds did during his first two years in the NFL. Moulds was a first round pick of the Bills in 1996 and it was not until his third season that Moulds production level began to justify his first round selection.

When the Bills drafted Graham his most impressive skill set was his speed and his ability to gain separation from defenders in the open field. In the two years that Graham has been in the NFL, completing passes accurately down field has been an issue for the Bills. According to Kent Dickerson, of the 58 passes thrown to Graham during the 2013 season, 50 percent (29) of the passes were bad passes. Graham and rookie quarterback EJ Manuel only connected for nine completions in 10 games as opposed to Graham catching 13 passes from Thad Lewis in six games.

In 2014 Graham will have a new wide receiver coach in Rob Moore. Moore will be the fourth different position coach in as many years for Graham dating back to his senior year at North Carolina State. The Bills have also hired a quarterbacks coach to assist with quarterback development and that will ultimately help all of the Bills wide receivers. The Bills are looking to sure up the offensive line to give the quarterbacks more protection when they drop back to throw and that will certainly benefit a receiver like Graham who is best when he is allowed the proper time to beat the defender deep. Manuel has 10 regular season games under his belt and a full off season to get better, an improvement in his game will surely make the offense better overall.

The Bills hold the ninth pick in the 2014 draft this year and draft pundits believe that the Bills may select a wide receiver with their selection. The front office has stated a desire to acquire a bigger receiver this off season via the NFL draft or free agency. Since 2012 the Bills have committed 36 million dollars to Stevie Johnson, drafted Robert Woods in the second round and used third round draft choices on Graham and Marquise Goodwin giving the team flexibility at the position and allowing the team to take the best player available with their choice. But do the Bills really need another log jam at receiver when there are other positions we don’t have nearly as much depth?

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