The Buffalo Bills had a decent amount of success in 2019 thanks to a solid core of veteran players, along with some key younger contributors. But if the team wants to take the next step in 2020 and become a dominant force in the league, the younger prospects need to develop into consistent, above-average starters. Here are some best guesses on four candidates. As always, feel free to add your own (or rip apart mine) in the comments below.
RB Devin Singletary
The only thing holding back Devin Singletary during his rookie season were the offensive coaches. In two early games against the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins, the rookie running back was only on the field for around 20 snaps, compared to Frank Gore’s 40. As the season went on, Singletary proved to the coaches that he was the superior option, and those ratios seemed to flip. In 2020, Singletary will share the backfield again, but in a way that promises to be much more equitable. When you add the talent the young man has to hopefully consistent usage during games, the team may be looking at it’s newest 1000-yard rusher.
TE Dawson Knox
There are several reasons to have assumed that Knox would be a late bloomer. For one, he was a former quarterback who transitioned to the tight end position and then was under-utilized at Ole Miss. Tight end is a position notorious for its long transition from college to the NFL, mostly due to the blocking requirements required of players in the pros. However, Knox not only got on the field during his rookie year but also wrenched the starting role away from Tyler Kroft. With more experience and earned trust from Josh Allen—as well as several practices in front of a JUGS Machine—Knox should be able to greatly improve on his 2019 rookie campaign.
DT Harrison Phillips
Timing is everything in sports, and Phillips picked just about the worst time to go down with injury last year. The second-year player was coming off a solid game against the New York Giants in Week 2—where he had a sack, two batted passes and three tackles—before tearing his ACL in the very next game. Before that point, Phillips looked poised to have a breakout season, and there’s no reason to think that he will have slowed down much given his injury. Expect a career year in 2020 for the former Stanford Cardinal.
S/CB Siran Neal
When Lorenzo Alexander was asked who he thinks will breakout for the team in 2020, he chose two names: Jaquan Johnson and Siran Neal. Neal began the season seeing about 20 snaps on defense, but ended up not seeing any defensive snaps after the fifth game of the season. Clearly, the coaches wanted to see what the hybrid safety/corner could do, but were not impressed with his performance. It’s likely that he gets another year to prepare for a high-impact role in the offseason and a fresh start in 2020 as the team’s choice at “Big Nickel.”