ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills’ new-look offense is taking shape after the team opened the second round of the NFL draft selecting Southern California junior receiver Robert Woods on Friday.
Picked 41st overall, Woods’ selection comes a day after Buffalo drafted Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel in the first round. The two become the first new pieces of an offense that’s being overseen by rookie head coach Doug Marrone, who took over in January after Chan Gailey was fired.
The Bills had a need at receiver after failing to re-sign David Nelson and Donald Jones this offseason. That left no established receiver to play opposite starter Stevie Johnson.
Listed at 6-feet and 190 pounds, Woods was a three-year starter who had a school record 252 career catches. He also finished with 2,930 yards receiving and 32 touchdowns.
Woods is regarded as a solid route-runner with quick feet. On the downside, he lacks upper-body strength that limits his ability to get off blocks and fight off defenders for catches.
The Bills then turned their attention to defense by addressing a need at linebacker by selecting Oregon’s Kristian `Kiko’ Alonso with the 46th pick.
Buffalo picked Alonso with the selection they acquired in a trade with St. Louis on Thursday. The Bills agreed to swap first-round picks with the Rams, dropping eight spots back to select Manuel. Buffalo also added a seventh-round pick, while the two teams swapped third-round selections.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 238 pounds, Alonso was a hard-hitting tackler over a three-year career. He played mostly at inside linebacker and finished with 143 tackles, six interceptions and 3 1/2 sacks in 36 games, including 17 starts.
Alonso had one interception and five tackles in being named the 2012 Rose Bowl defensive player of the game in a 45-38 win over Wisconsin.
He encountered off-the-field problems. Alonso was suspended for the entire 2010 season due to separate alcohol-related offenses before being reinstated the following year.
The Bills need depth at linebacker. Their defense is in transition, making the switch back to a 3-4 system under new coordinator Mike Pettine.
Buffalo’s offense is also being revamped under Marrone and first-year coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Manuel will compete with newly signed six-year veteran Kevin Kolb for the starting job after the Bills cut starter Ryan Fitzpatrick to free up salary last month.
The offense regressed last season, finishing 19th in the NFL in yards gained. The offense scored two or fewer touchdowns eight times.
Buffalo is coming off a 6-10 finish, its eight consecutive losing season. The Bills have also missed the playoffs for 13 straight seasons — the NFL’s longest active drought.
Before Woods’ selection was announced by retired defensive end Chris Kelsay, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell paid tribute to former Buffalo News football writer Larry Felser, who died on Wednesday.