I have been unabashed in my praise for Buffalo Bills WR Robert Woods over the years. The Bills selected Woods 41st overall in the 2013 NFL Draft out of the University of Southern California, where Woods posted massive numbers, including a 111 reception, 1,292 yard, and 15 touchdown sophomore season.
The 6’0, 200 pound Woods was a 21-year-old rookie, impressively young, with a 4.51s 40 yard dash, 9’9 broad jump, and 7.15s three cone drill. He went on to average roughly 50 receptions , 600 yards, and 3 touchdowns over the next four seasons in Buffalo, under three different offensive coordinators, but he always played his best against the New England Patriots.
Woods. Chip, chip, chip, chip away. He beats the Patriots every single game. https://t.co/xJAofCD31e— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) October 2, 2016
Robert Woods now has 307 yards and 3 TDs over the past five games against the Patriots. Still almost a full half to go.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) October 2, 2016
This game just made Robert Woods a lot of $$$$. Bet Belichick is sad to see the asking price go up. Good for him.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) November 8, 2016
But seriously, Belichick, Brady, and McDaniels are watching what Woods did and adding a new page to the playbook next week.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) November 8, 2016
Roberts was the quintessential #2 receiver in Buffalo, behind Stevie Johnson as a rookie and Sammy Watkins in his final three seasons, but he always seemed to step up against the Patriots- and that’s why I think he should be on the Patriots shortlist of possible free agent wide receiver targets.
Woods flashes strong hands, with few drops despite erratic play at quarterback. His first career game came against the Patriots in week 1 of the 2013 season where he collected 1 pass for 18 yards and a touchdown. Over the past three seasons against the Patriots, Woods has collected 29 receptions on 43 targets (67.4%) for 360 yards and 3 touchdowns.
What makes Woods an even better match is his superior route running ability. While he lacks elite physical traits, he’s very capable at generating separation and runs a wide variety of routes that the Patriots utilize.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) listed Woods as the second best receiver in the NFL at hitch and comeback routes, noting that he collected the second most yards off hitch and comeback routes in the NFL and that he was particularly successful on third down. This is notable because the one player PFF ranked ahead of Woods is Patriots #1 WR Julian Edelman. Edelman ranked #1 in the league with a passer rating of 138.8 when targeted on comebacks and hitches.
While there would be some obvious overlap between Woods and Malcolm Mitchell, Woods is just 15 months older than Mitchell with three extra years of NFL experience. Woods is a great possession receiver that could flourish in the Patriots offense, just like Brandon LaFell and former Bills teammate Chris Hogan. With the 31-year-old Danny Amendola a possible salary cap casualty, and with Edelman turning 31 in May (despite coming off his best career season), perhaps it would be wise to invest in a productive young player like Woods.