The Buffalo Bills had an enviable amount of wide receiver depth during the 2021 season. Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, and Cole Beasley sat atop the depth chart, making up one of the league’s best trios for quarterback Josh Allen to target.
In 2022, Beasley and Sanders are gone, but that doesn’t mean the Bills have any less depth or talent at the position. The name recognition may be a bit less, but the team still has a solid stable of targets for Allen to find. The receiver group is younger, too, as both Sanders (35) and Beasley (33) have been replaced with younger players.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one of the Bills’ younger wideouts, a player entering his third season—and on the verge of a huge breakout.
Name: Gabe Davis
Height/Weight: 6’2” 210 lbs
Age: 23 (24 on 4/1/2023)
Experience/Draft: 3; selected in the fourth round (No. 128 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft by Buffalo
Acquired: Fourth-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Davis enters the third year of his four-year rookie contract, a pact worth a total of $3,994,380. For the 2020 season, he carries a cap hit of $1,069,845, and a dead-cap number of $349,690 if Buffalo decides to release or trade him.
2021 Recap: Davis had almost identical numbers during his second regular season to his rookie year. In 2020, he caught 35 passes on 62 targets for 599 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2021, he caught 35 passes on 63 targets for 549 yards and six touchdowns. He played in 16 games for the second straight year, but he missed one in 2021 due to a stint on the COVID-19 list (that was Buffalo’s 33-21 victory over the New England Patriots on December 26). In the playoffs, though, Davis thrived. He had a monster postseason, catching ten passes for 242 yards and five touchdowns. Most of that production came in Buffalo’s 42-36 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Davis caught eight passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns. His final two touchdowns each gave Buffalo the lead in the fourth quarter of the game. First, Davis caught a 27-yard touchdown on 4th & 13, running such a gorgeous route that he corkscrewed cornerback Mike Hughes into the ground. Then, with just 13 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Davis caught another go-ahead touchdown, this time beating L’Jarius Snead up the seam to give the Bills what seemed like an insurmountable lead. That play would be the last one the team ran on offense for the season.
Positional outlook: Davis joins Diggs as the two wideouts left from the top-four of last year’s group. Isaiah McKenzie is also back, as are Jake Kumerow, Marquez Stevenson, Isaiah Hodgins, and Tanner Gentry. Khalil Shakir, Tavon Austin, Neil Pau’u, and Jamison Crowder are new to the group.
2022 Offseason: Davis is healthy and he has participated in all offseason activities to date. He has been active at training camp, as well, running as a strong WR2 to Diggs’s WR1.
2022 Season outlook: Davis looks ready to take a big step forward this year, as he’s added some weight (which, side note, means that the weight on the team’s official website is way off, as Davis said he played last year at 221 lbs and he’s at 228 lbs to begin camp) and he’s in line for a much larger share of both snaps and targets this year. Allen clearly trusts him, and Davis has shown himself to be an excellent route runner who is adept at making difficult grabs along the sideline. (His playoff performance as a rookie against the Indianapolis Colts was the first real reinforcement of that trait.)
Last year, Beasley and Sanders combined for 182 targets. If we assume that slot options like Crowder and McKenzie, the latter of whom has been outstanding at camp thus far, will absorb at least half of those targets, we’re talking about a possible addition of at least 40 targets to Davis’s ledger. A 70-catch, 900-yard season isn’t out of the question for Davis, and I also think he’s my betting favorite to surpass Bill Brooks and his franchise-record 11 receiving touchdowns in 1995. Davis was a phenomenal draft pick, and he has developed into a stellar second option for the Bills. This is the year where I think he shows out in a big way.