Robert Woods made an early statement, becoming the first USC true freshman to start the season opener at wide receiver in more than 50 years. He was the Pac-10 Offensive Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American, then went on to be a Biletnikoff Award finalist as a sophomore. In 2012 the USC offense seemed to focus more on Marquise Lee and Wood’s numbers slipped, so he opted to take his game to the NFL.
Despite leaving school early, Woods’ game is as NFL-ready as any receiver in this class. He’s a fluid route runner who has experience with the full route tree, soft hands, and great body control and awareness. Scouting reports consistently use veteran terms such as “savvy” and “crafty” when describing his game.
Woods doesn’t have pure top-end speed; instead, he’s quick, shifty, and elusive. He has both experience and success in the return game, but too frequently he tries to make something out of nothing. Woods is somewhat slight, so there are concerns about his durability at the NFL level—and he does have a concussion and some ankle issues on his resume.
If a crafty receiver with return skills sounds like Tim Brown… well, you’re not alone; Brown is a common NFL comparison for Woods among scouting reports, along with Packer wideouts Donald Driver and James Jones. Woods should have first shot at taking over wingman duties in Buffalo opposite Steve Johnson, and he’s expected to provide E.J. Manuel with a reliable target for years to come.