All of a sudden, the Buffalo Bills have the best wide receiver group in the NFL. That was the sentence I tweeted as soon as it was confirmed that Buffalo had traded for Stefon Diggs to pair with John Brown and Cole Beasley and go all-in on weapons for Josh Allen to play with in 2020.
Now, without getting bogged down in the relative merits of three good receivers versus two stars (like Tampa Bay, for example which is the only team that had two receivers in the top 10 of PFF grades in 2019), the point was just how impressive the Bills' trio is. Not only is it good, but it’s balanced, underrated, and each of the three win with the same calling card — separation.
All of a sudden the Bills have the best WR group in the NFL https://t.co/9XH2GH5Iwj
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 17, 2020
Let’s start with what the Bills have acquired in the form of Diggs. When you start to watch through his tape, it’s difficult to find something that he doesn’t do exceptionally well.
Diggs can count the following as strengths:
- Great releases off the line
- Great route running
- Great contested-catch skills
- Great hands
- Very good run after the catch ability
- Good to very good straight-line speed for deep shots
That’s pretty much the entirety of being a top-end wide receiver in the NFL. So why are Diggs' stats relatively pedestrian when compared to the very best receivers in the game? Diggs took three years to top 1,000 receiving yards, and last year was the first in which he topped 1,100. By contrast, Julio Jones topped 1,400 for five straight years, and last season’s relative down year of 1,394 would still have topped the best season Diggs has had by more than 200 receiving yards.
Some of this can be explained simply by target volume. Diggs has had only two seasons in his career with 100-plus targets and has 326 combined over the past three years. Jones averages more than that for his entire career and has been over 125 targets for six straight seasons. Over the past five seasons, Diggs ranks just 20th in the NFL in terms of targets. There’s a very good argument that if Diggs was simply transported into an offense that fed him the ball more, he would immediately look like one of the very best receivers in the game. The Vikings are a run-first offense with a quarterback who tends to be risk-averse in certain situations, so Diggs was never likely to get that in Minnesota. Target volume can be the product of a few things, but in Diggs’ case, it’s definitely one of circumstances rather than an inability to get open and “earn” targets.