An in-depth look at Bills' wide receivers following signing of Marquez Valdes-Scantling

The Buffalo Bills have added veteran wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to their receiving corps. Here's how the signing impacts the unit.
Mar 1, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman (WO04) talks to the
Mar 1, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman (WO04) talks to the / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills added speed and experience to their receiving corps Tuesday morning by signing veteran wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to a one-year deal. The signing, though noteworthy given Buffalo’s offseason turnover at wideout and the fact that Valdes-Scantling is coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins with the Kansas City Chiefs, does not figure to be a needle-mover given the Bills’ headliners—and surprising depth—at the position.

The signing of Valdes-Scantling has prompted us to take a closer look at Buffalo’s receiving corps; while it’s objectively not as stout as it was just a few months ago given the spring departures of Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis, the unit is not without talent and intriguing prospects throughout. Here’s a deep dive into the Bills’ receiver room and how Valdes-Scantling may factor into it.

Buffalo's 'Big 3'

Keon Coleman

Nov 18, 2023; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4)
Nov 18, 2023; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4) / Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

It would be fair to say that Buffalo potentially views Keon Coleman as the long-term centerpiece of its revamped receiving corps given that it used a premium selection (33rd overall) on the prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. It’s not difficult to see why the team likes his long-term potential—he was a big-bodied athletic marvel with elite ball skills throughout his collegiate career, tallying 50 receptions for 658 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Florida State Seminoles last season.

Many pundits and draft personalities were down on Coleman throughout the pre-draft process given his difficulty in consistently creating separation at the collegiate level and his underwhelming 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. Several prognosticators suggested that he most favorably projected to the professional level as a ‘big slot’ receiver; this won’t be the case in Buffalo, as 2023 first-round pick Dalton Kincaid appears to be the team’s long-term option in that spot. General manager Brandon Beane has already stated that the team views the rookie as its “X” wide receiver, indicating that he’ll primarily line up on the boundary.

While this perhaps isn’t what Coleman’s current skill set is best suited for, it was his ‘rawness’ that initially made him so intriguing to Buffalo. He’s a malleable ball of clay who, if afforded time and proper coaching, can be molded into whatever a team wants him to be; in other words, the Bills think they can mold the athletic 6-foot-3 target who looks like a prototypical No. 1 wide receiver into a prototypical No. 1 wide receiver. With one of football’s premier passers in Josh Allen getting him the football, Coleman will have every opportunity to succeed out wide.

Related: Bills WR Keon Coleman named non-first round pick with best chance to star

Khalil Shakir

Initially viewed as one of the better value selections in the 2023 NFL Draft, former fifth-round draft pick Khalil Shakir has shown promise throughout his two professional seasons. He’s caught 49 passes for 772 yards and three touchdowns throughout his career thus far; he demonstrably earned the trust of Allen down the stretch of his sophomore campaign, this culminating in a six-reception, 105-yard outing in a Week 18 win over the Miami Dolphins. 

Shakir is perhaps the most interesting member of Buffalo’s receiving corps given his versatility; his 6-foot, 190-pound frame would suggest that he’s best suited for the slot—which is where he’s been deployed from on the vast majority of his snaps—but he has lined up and found success on the boundary before. He notched 703 offensive snaps last year, with 476 coming in the slot and 184 coming out wide.

Though now-full-time offensive coordinator Joe Brady primarily used Shakir in the slot after taking over on an interim basis last season (with the wideout becoming a mainstay on 11 personnel snaps), he wasn’t averse to the idea of lining him up out wide. Expect Shakir to see time at both spots in the 2024 season.

Curtis Samuel

Now eighth-year wideout Curtis Samuel was likely Buffalo’s most significant external addition to the receiving corps in the offseason, with the former Ohio State Buckeye inking a three-year deal with the Bills in March. It’s, admittedly, a bit of an underwhelming “splash” for a team with Super Bowl aspirations to make, especially considering its losses at the position; Samuel, though talented, has never bested more than 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

Underwhelming production aside, Samuel is an intriguing addition given his prior experience with the aforementioned Brady. The versatile wideout played under Brady when the young play-caller served as the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator in the 2020 NFL season; Samuel set career highs in both receiving and scrimmage yards that year, tallying 851 and 1,051, respectively.

Brady deployed Samuel from a bevy of spots in Carolina’s offense, with the then-fourth-year receiver logging 399 snaps in the slot, 177 snaps out wide, and 70 snaps in the backfield, per Pro Football Focus. Don’t expect Brady to consistently use Samuel in the backfield in Buffalo, but the coordinator could look to get the 27-year-old the ball in creative ways as takes advantage of his versatility and uses him almost interchangeably with Shakir.

Related: Most Impactful Offseason Additions: Where Ex Bills' WR Stefon Diggs ranks

Depth with Defined Roles

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (11)
Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (11) / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The recently signed Marquez Valdes-Scantling does not project as a significant contributor in Buffalo’s receiving corps, but he does have a clear role—he’s a veteran boundary field stretcher, an outside option who possesses the speed (4.37 40-yard dash) lacked by Coleman and size (6-foot-4) lacked by Samuel.

Valdes-Scantling has never been an alpha option throughout his career, and he shouldn’t be expected to blossom into one in his age-30 season—he’s never supplanted 700 receiving yards in a single season, and his dropped ball percentage, per PFF, has hovered around 10% in each year of his career (he’s dropped 21 on-target passes throughout his six NFL campaigns). That said, there are worse fourth options to have; the veteran brings a resume to the receiving corps that includes over 3,000 career receiving yards, 60 starts, and back-to-back Super Bowl wins with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mack Hollins

Mack Hollins bounced around four NFL franchises throughout his seven years in the league before signing with the Bills in the 2024 offseason. The 6-foot-4 wideout projects as an occasional boundary and red zone target for Buffalo, but his primary role will be on special teams; he’s logged significant special teams snaps throughout each of his professional seasons.

Reclamation Projects

K.J. Hamler

Oct 23, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) runs the ball in the
Oct 23, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) runs the ball in the / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Once an incredibly intriguing wideout out of Penn State, K.J. Hamer has underwhelmed since being selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He appeared in just 23 games for the team, catching 42 balls for 620 yards and three scores in what was an adversity-riddled stint; Hamler tore his ACL in his sophomore campaign, suffered a significant hamstring injury in his third, and was diagnosed with pericarditis last summer. Denver waived him in July of 2023; he spent the 2023 season on the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad.

Hamler hopes to realize the potential that allowed him to be a second-round pick in Orchard Park, but he faces an uphill climb to a roster spot; if he makes the unit, it’ll be as a depth slot receiver and special teams option.

Chase Claypool

Chase Claypool was once one of the most promising young wideouts in the league, tallying 1,845 scrimmage yards and 13 total touchdowns throughout his first two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Effort and character concerns would ultimately cloud the intriguing prospect; Pittsburgh would move him midway through the 2022 campaign, with Claypool bouncing between two teams and notching only 22 receptions since leaving the Steel City.

Related: Once-promising WR could 'shed bust label' with Bills

He, like Hamler, will look to realize his former potential when paired with an elite quarterback, but he, too, is a long shot. His path to the roster is as a depth boundary option.

Shots at the dartboard

Andy Isabella

Recently signed receiver Andy Isabella makes catch during training camp.
Recently signed receiver Andy Isabella makes catch during training camp. / Jamie Germano/Democrat and Chronicle /

A 2023 preseason favorite of Bills Mafia, Andy Isabella spent the 2023 season on Buffalo’s practice squad. He’s tallied 33 receptions for 447 yards throughout his NFL career; the 27-year-old will look to earn a spot on the roster as a depth slot option and special teams returner.

Quintez Cephus

The recently-signed Quintez Cephus missed the entire 2023 season after he was suspended by the NFL for betting on games. He had caught 37 passes for 568 yards and four touchdowns in his career up to that point, the bulk of his snaps coming out wide.

Justin Shorter

Justin Shorter spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve after being selected by the Bills in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. A five-star recruit out of high school, Shorter underwhelmed throughout his collegiate career, finishing his five-year stint with just 110 receptions for 1,552 yards and eight touchdowns. He could make the team as a rotational field stretcher and special teamer if he impresses in training camp.

Tyrell Shavers

The 6-foot-4 Tyrell Shavers is an intriguing boundary option thanks to his size alone; he was also an elite special teams gunner in college, something that makes his roster hopes a bit more optimistic given the offseason departure of Siran Neal.

Aug 12, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Tyrell Shavers (80) makes a
Aug 12, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Tyrell Shavers (80) makes a / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Thompson

Former Arizona State wideout Bryan Thompson signed with the Bills after going undrafted in the 2023 NFL Draft, spending his rookie season on Buffalo’s practice squad. The 6-foot-3 wideout is exclusively a boundary option with some limited special teams experience.

Related: Bills UDFA Primer: Meeting the 2024 undrafted free agent class

Xavier Johnson

Xavier Johnson signed with the Bills after going undrafted in the 2024 NFL Draft. He’s more so a gadget player than a traditional wide receiver; the former Ohio State Buckeye could make waves in training camp should Buffalo make the most of his abilities as a pass catcher, ball carrier, and special teamer.

Lawrence Keys III

Lawrence Keys III, like Johnson, joined Buffalo after falling through the cracks of the 2024 NFL Draft. A former Notre Dame wideout, he caught 63 passes for 895 yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons after transferring to Tulane. At roughly 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Keys is a bit undersized, but he has experience both on the boundary and in the slot.

Kyle Silagyi