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Can Gabriel Davis, Isaiah Hodgins, allow the Buffalo Bills to move on from John Brown?

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills went into the 2020 offseason needing an upgrade at receiver in a loaded year for them in the NFL Draft. Instead, they traded for alpha dog Stefon Diggs who would go on to lead the NFL in receiving. Not a bad idea, but that’s not where general manager Brandon Beane stopped.

With two receivers over 30, Beane wanted to get younger at the position and took not one but two receivers in the draft on top of adding Diggs. Fourth-rounder Gabriel Davis and sixth-rounder Isaiah Hodgins had very different rookie years but the duo could be poised for a breakout in 2021.

John Brown, the soon-to-be-31-year-old receiver for the Bills, missed seven games in 2020 with various injuries. In his place, Davis overachieved in a rookie season without a regular offseason and training camp. In all, 35 receptions for 599 yards and seven touchdowns that included the longest play of the season for the Bills was a great rookie campaign. He played 73 percent of the offensive snaps but was supposed to be the team’s fourth receiver. He largely stepped into the shoes of Brown already.

Hodgins was stashed on injured reserve despite some thinking he could have made the roster of veterans. He’s fully recovered from his surgery and ready to roll in 2021.

So where does that leave the Bills? With Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley as the veterans, Gabriel Davis as the steady outside receiver, and Hodgins waiting in the wings, there doesn’t seem to be much room for Brown. Jake Kumerow and Duke Williams are under contract as futures players along with unknown Tanner Gentry. While the Bills will need to add bodies and depth at the position, if they rolled out the guys in September that they already have under contract now in March, it would still be a formidable group.

This was Beane’s plan all along when he drafted those guys last April; prepare for life without Brown and Beasley. Now he can do it a year earlier because of the season Davis had in 2020.