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Bills fill needs with two wideouts, LB

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Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013 10:16 am

ORCHARD PARK —  You can’t say the Buffalo Bills didn’t draft for need.

It started Thursday night when they drafted Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel, the only QB taken in the opening round, after trading down from the eighth spot to No. 16.

Friday night it was more of the same, taking Robert Woods, a game-breaking wide receiver from USC with their first of two second-round selections (No. 41), then grabbing Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso, a player with a dubious off-field history, with the 48th pick, acquired from St. Louis when the Rams traded up to the Bills’ spot in the first round.

Buffalo ended its selections by taking another wideout, Texas speedster Marquise Goodwin, in the third round with the 78th overall selection, after switching positions with St. Louis (71st) in the first-round deal.

WOODS, who caught 252 passes in three seasons, 111 as a sophomore, according to Bills’ General Manager Buddy Nix was “the most NFL-ready wide receiver in the draft.”

Despite his issues with alcohol, the Bills liked Alonso’s versatility and 4.68 speed.

Of the off-field issues, Nix noted, “He drank too much ... it wasn’t drugs. He’s gotten counseling and that hasn’t been a problem since.

“We believe that people deserve second chances and we felt the risk (of drafting him) was worthwhile.”

Goodwin, in high school, won the Texas long and triple jump titles, was a member of the champion 4x100 relay team and was a two-time World Junior Champion in both the long jump and 4x100.

He was also the Big 12 indoor and outdoor long-jump  champion and finished 10th in that event at last summer’s London Olympics.

But Nix cautioned, “He’s a football player first ... not a track guy playing football.

“And even though he’s small (barely 180 pounds), he a tenacious blocker. All he needs is repetitions and touches (120 career catches and 11 career touchdowns, 7 receiving, 3 rushing, 1 on a kickoff return).”

WOODS, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior, caught 32 touchdown passes during his abbreviated career at Southern California, 26 his last two seasons, 15 his sophomore year.

He was the first true freshman wide receiver to start a season opener for USC in the post World War II era.

Summarizing Woods, Pro Football Weekly said, “He’s a sleek, fluid, versatile receiver with a mixture of playmaking ability and possession skills. His production decreased as a junior in the shadow of Marquise Lee’s rising star, but Woods has the chops to become a solid No. 2 option working primarily in the slot.”

PFW wasn’t as kind to the 6-foot-3, 238-pound Alonso, about whom it raised major character issues.

The Draft Preview said, in part, “Was arrested in ‘10 for DUI and suspended for the season. (Then) ran into trouble with the Law in May ‘11, charged with burglary, criminal trespass and criminal mischief after trying to break into a home (supposedly accidentally entering the wrong house while drunk) and was suspended indefinitely. He pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal mischief and second-degree criminal trespass and was sentenced to two years’ probation, 200 hours of community service and intensive alcohol treatment.”

Of his playing outlook, PFW called him, “An injury-prone, run-and-hit, search-and-flow linebacker with multiple alcohol-related incidents in his past. Has a passion for the game that could carry him on special teams if he matures and realizes he’s not on scholarship anymore.”

Finally, in assessing the 5-foot-8, 183-pound Goodwin, Pro Football Weekly said, “He was the fastest player timed at the Combine (from between 4.17 to 4.27) and broad jumped 11 feet. Dangerous on end-arounds and reverses. Strong Senior Bowl showing ... motivated, coachable and competitive.”

On the negative side, PFW added: “He needs to get stronger and is relatively inexperienced. Durability could be an issue.”

In summation, the Draft Preview concluded of Goodwin, “Similar to Steelers’ 2009 third-rounder Mike Wallace. In a league full of fast players, he will be one of the fastest, capable of taking the top off a defense and adding a big-play element.”

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