The most prominent storyline for the Buffalo Bills over the past season unequivocally was quarterback Josh Allen’s rise to become not only a starting caliber quarterback but, in fact, one of the league’s top overall players. By all accounts, Allen’s breakout season was truly historic, statistically speaking.
While the 2021 season may not bear witness to the same level of breakout from a player, this year’s roster seems to offer several potential candidates who could go from being considered bit players, to real pillars of the team moving forward. This would be through either increased opportunity or demonstrated development over time. Below are four such players.
RB Zack Moss
With over 500 scrimmage yards, Moss’ rookie season could be considered a mild success. Outside of the final game of the season—in which he only saw three rushes—he ended the regular season with two very strong performances against the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots while appearing to supplant Devin Singletary for lead tailback. Then came an ankle injury in the Wild Card round against the Indianapolis Colts. With the Bills holding steady at adding to the position, and a hopefully healthy offensive line paving the way in front of him, the talented runner should be able to capitalize.
DT Ed Oliver
Outside of Jerry Hughes last year, Oliver was the Bills’ primary threat along the defensive line—and opposing offenses knew it. The second-year player garnered extra attention throughout the year but, despite that, managed to show up in spurts in the games against the Las Vegas Raiders and the first game against the Miami Dolphins. With another year of experience under his belt and the return of one-tech defensive tackle Star Lotulelei—among other defensive line reinforcements—Oliver may be able to benefit from less attention and focus from offensive guards and centers.
CB Dane Jackson
In starting two games last season, Jackson was able to fill the stat sheet with an interception, a fumble recovery a tackle-for-loss and five passes defensed. Most observers expect Dane Jackson to out-compete veteran Levi Wallace when given the chance in training camp but, even if he doesn’t win outright, expect the coaches to have him platoon with Wallace throughout the season. Regardless, Jackson should see increased opportunities and should be able to continue demonstrating his playmaking ways.
TE Jacob Hollister
This is a pretty huge projection, but there is reason to think the newest tight end on the team will have the best season of his career. For one, the former Wyoming Cowboy already has a rapport with Josh Allen and has already earned headlines in offseason practices. Additionally, his quickness, ability to separate and intelligence should prove favorable to his chances in the offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s system. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see Hollister outshine Dawson Knox in several areas next season.