The Buffalo Bills have four big needs at the top of their draft list: offensive line, defensive line, tight end, and wide receiver. The last position on that checklist could be filled in the third or fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, where wideout David Sills V is projected to go.
The 6’3,” 211-pound West Virginia standout led the Big 12 in receiving touchdowns this past season with 15—three less than his previous year. Sills totaled 986 yards in a career year for the Mountaineers in 2018. Had starting senior quarterback Will Grier played in the Camping World Bowl against Syracuse in Orlando, FL, Sills may have broken the 1,000-yard mark.
Projections have Sills as a third-round pick in the draft, ranging anywhere from the 75th overall selection to as far as the 125th pick or later. With the Bills not receiving any compensatory picks this year, they hold notable picks in the first (No. 9), second (No. 40), third (No. 72), and fourth (No. 112 and 131 via Kansas City) rounds. CBS Sports has Sills ranked as the 18th player at his position, the perfect place to slip under the radar into Buffalo’s lap. Most likely, Sills would be an option with the 72nd pick or 112th pick if still available, even if a wide receiver is drafted with an earlier selection.
The Bills have endured hardships at the receiver position for years. Notably, Kelvin Benjamin’s short stint ended with him being released mid-season. Sammy Watkins was believed to be the number-one guy on the hashes and cost the Bills a first rounder to draft, but injuries kept him from his projected ceiling. Zay Jones is the latest wide receiver to come out of the draft to Buffalo with big expectations, and his statistics and play last season point to him developing into that role soon. With deep threat Robert Foster and newly signed Duke Williams—the former leading receiver in the CFL—Sills may slide in nicely as another addition to the position.
Sills’s stats point to him as a red-zone threat; a weapon the Bills could ultimately use. While Sills ranked 41st in the NCAA in receiving yards, his 15 receiving touchdowns were second in the country as a result of his red-zone efficiency. His ability to run fade routes proved lethal to opponents last season with Grier under center.
In last season’s 59-56 shootout against Oklahoma, Sills scored two touchdowns against the Sooners. One came on a fake screen that caused the cornerback to bite early, failing to recover in time as Sills caught a tough pass on the left sideline in the end zone. Sills could be the guy that helps accommodate Allen’s accuracy, a critique that has followed the quarterback since before he was drafted by Buffalo, through plays like this.
Even when Sills is a decoy on a play, the Bills could prosper. In West Virginia’s thriller against Texas, Grier converted a two-point conversion with 16 seconds left to secure a one-point win. Sills ran what appeared to be a fade route to divert the attention of the Longhorn secondary. The distraction worked and Grier scored with his legs on the designed quarterback draw run. Grier ran into the end zone just yards from a tightly-covered Sills, and that is not a coincidence.
Imagine this play with the Bills’ offense. Allen would have no trouble strolling in the end zone on a designed QB run as Sills, a fade route aficionado and scoring threat, could draw equal attention from NFL defensive backs. Allen is a proven dual-threat quarterback with his eight rushing touchdowns last season. An Allen-Sills combo in the red zone could be deadly with options through the air and on the ground as long as the Bills produce a worthy offensive line for the upcoming season.
Sills is similar to a former Bill who now wears two championship rings. Chris Hogan played a similar style of game in his time in Buffalo, thriving in short routes and occasional deep sideline hauls. Sills has two inches on Hogan with a 6’3” height that makes him an even larger target.
If drafted by Buffalo, Sills would presumably have something Hogan did not: a consistent quarterback. In his three years with the Bills, Hogan received passes from a carousel of quarterbacks. From 2013-2016, the Bills started five signal callers: Former first-round pick EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel, Kyle Orton, and Tyrod Taylor.
If Allen can stay healthy, his constant presence as the franchise quarterback would help keep parallel development among all young Buffalo players. If Sills is one of them, Buffalo could see a jump in efficiency from a passing game that lacked last season.