We’re counting down the best, most important, most impressive early career Buffalo Bills. These players are the closest thing to a “farm system” for an NFL team, and ideally they’re playing major roles in the team’s success. For every Von Miller the team’s signing in free agency, they’re only able to work that tactic by supporting him with a handful of younger, cost-controlled players.
Coming in fifth place is a runner who’s already given the Bills three years of solid production. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but in his third pro season he had the best year of his career, playing as the unquestioned lead back during the stretch run through the playoffs. Devin Singletary gets the nod as we enter the top half of the list!
The list so far
- Number 6: CB Kaiir Elam
- Number 7: OL Ryan Bates
- Number 8: DT Tim Settle
- Number 9: K Tyler Bass
- Number 10: OT Spencer Brown
- Honorable mentions: Boogie Basham, A.J. Epenesa, Zack Moss, James Cook
Number 5: RB Devin Singletary (turns 25 on September 3)
2021 eventually became a rebound year for Singletary, following a difficult sophomore season that saw him lose his starting role rather than solidify it. Singletary started year three in an awkward position, splitting carries every week and losing red zone opportunities to Zack Moss and Josh Allen. He landed in the doghouse after fumbling four times in the first four games (although he didn’t lose any of them). With Singletary (and the running game) taking a back seat in the middle of the season, he only averaged 5.7 carries for 26 yards from Weeks 5-10.
Later in the season, the Bills lost a heartbreaker to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, arguably, suffered from a game plan that had Josh Allen touch the ball 66 times and Bills running backs touch it 13 times (only seven carries). At that point, Buffalo did some soul-searching and chose to make Singletary their feature back going forward, as well as to put further emphasis on their running game to avoid becoming one-dimensional again.
For the final six games of the year, Singletary’s stat line was 102 carries, 430 yards, 8 TDs, 15 receptions, 111 receiving yards, and a receiving TD. He didn’t fumble anything across that stretch. Extrapolated out to a full season, that would match up well against Pro Bowl runners like Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon.
At this point, we know what the Bills have in Singletary. He’s a running back who’ll be limited by his lack of size and speed. But his vision, his open-field running, and his newly improved ability to drive his legs through contact and power ahead through tacklers—these are all traits that make him a starting-caliber running back now in the prime of his career. He might not have managed to make a case for a large free-agent contract after this season, but he has a solid NFL track record and thrived when the team leaned on him down the stretch.