Big is the word for the 2012 wide receiver draft class.
There are going to be big wideouts available well into the fourth and even fifth round. There could be 15 wideouts 6-foot or taller taken in the first four rounds, and 13 of those 15 are at least 6-2. In last year's draft, 12 of the 16 receivers picked in the first four rounds were 6-foot or better.
"They get prettier every year -- bigger and faster and long arms," said Bills General Manager Buddy Nix. "The wide receiver group is deep."
"There is so much value in the receiver position in the second and third round," said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. "The list goes on and on from guys in those middle rounds."
The Bills could add one of these big wideouts, but don't expect them to force the issue if the player they like in a particular round is off the board. The Bills have 10 receivers on the roster, counting swingman Brad Smith, and at least three of them (Marcus Easley, David Clowney and Donald Jones) have down-the-field potential as candidates to play opposite Stevie Johnson. Buffalo won't be desperate to reach for a receiver.
The top wideout is Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, who is unlikely to last until the Bills' spot at No. 10 overall. After him, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd and Baylor's Kendall Wright are first-round talents.
Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill, Louisiana State's Rueben Randle, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffrey and Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu all could be taken in the second round. Hill is the fastest, timed at 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but he played in a triple-option offense. He caught only 28 passes last year and 15 in 2010. Randle is a down-the-field threat, but he probably won't fall to the Bills' second pick at No. 41. Jeffrey is a big-bodied athlete who followed up an 88-catch sophomore season with just 49 last fall. Rutgers' Sanu caught 115 passes last season, for a 10.8-yard average.
"Alshon Jeffrey does not separate," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. "He struggles getting off the line of scrimmage against quality press corners; same with Mohammed Sanu."
Who might fit the Bills' desire for outside speed after the second round?
Appalachian State's Brian Quick (6-4, 220) is not an elite speedster, but he's a big athlete who makes plays downfield. He's raw. Arkansas' Greg Childs (6-3, 219) ran a 4.41 in the 40, but the aftereffects of a knee injury in 2010 limited him to 21 catches in 2011. Illinois' A.J. Jenkins (6-0, 192) ran a 4.39 at the combine. He caught 90 passes for a 14.2-yard average. Miami's Tommy Streeter (6-5, 215) is a one-year wonder who could go anywhere from the third to the fifth rounds. He ran 4.40. Wake Forest's Chris Givens ran 4.41.
Stanford's Coby Fleener tops the tight-end crop, but there are no Rob Gronkowskis this year.
"The tight-end class is a bad class," Mayock said. "I don't have a first-round grade in the tight-end class -- I have three second-round grades and then I have kind of an abyss."
This is the fourth in a seven-part series previewing the NFL draft. Today's installment: receivers. NEXT: Defensive backs