The Buffalo Bills are fortunate to have one of the NFL’s best wideouts on their roster. With that “alpha” in the mix, the team tried last year to skate by with some “lottery tickets” at the position, hoping that they could elevate their play since they wouldn’t be the focal point of the offense — or of defensive coordinators.
That definitely didn’t go exactly to plan, as the team was too reliant on quarterback Josh Allen being an absolute animal at times last season. As a result, general manager Brandon Beane has revamped the stable of pass-catchers at Allen’s disposal. However, the top two players on the receiver depth chart from 2022 are still the top two players on the receiver depth chart in 2023.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile that WR2 — a young player entering a pivotal year in his career.
Name: Gabe Davis
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 225 pounds
Age: 24 (25 on 4/1/2024)
Experience/Draft: 4; selected by Buffalo in the fourth round (No. 128 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft
Acquired: Fourth-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Davis enters the final year of his rookie contract, a four-year pact worth a total of $3,994,380. For the 2023 season, Davis carries a cap hit of $2,916,845 and a dead-cap number of $174,845 if Buffalo decides to release him.
2022 Recap: After an otherworldly postseason in 2021, expectations for Davis were sky-high as he stepped into the WR2 role in a high-powered Buffalo offense. An early season ankle injury hampered him throughout, however, and Davis never quite took that huge leap forward that everyone thought he’d taken after a four-touchdown performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs. While Davis missed a game due to that injury, he still managed to out-snap all of Buffalo’s receivers by a wide margin, appearing on 926 snaps. That’s nearly 100 more offensive snaps than Stefon Diggs, who took 836 snaps. Davis totaled 48 receptions for 836 yards and seven touchdowns on 93 targets. All of those totals set career-highs except for the touchdown figure, which merely tied his career-high that he’d set as a rookie in 2020. In the playoffs, Davis caught eight passes for 147 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. Davis’ drop number and drop percentage continued to creep upward, as he dropped nine passes, which came to 9.7% of his targets. That was an increase from five drops and a drop percentage of 7.9% the year before, which was an increase from three drops and a drop percentage of 4.8% as a rookie.
Positional outlook: Davis once again enters as the WR2, though he has some competition for snaps in the form of Trent Sherfield, who may also see some run in the slot along with Deonte Harty. Stefon Diggs is back, as well, and that foursome is joined by Justin Shorter, Marcell Ateman, Tyrell Shavers, Dezmon Patmon, Isaiah Coulter, Andy Isabella, Khalil Shakir, KeeSean Johnson, and Bryan Thompson.
2023 Offseason: Davis is fully healthy and he has been dominant in training camp so far. He played just six snaps against the Indianapolis Colts in the team’s preseason opener. He was not targeted in the game.
2023 Season outlook: At the conclusion of the 2021 regular season, I think that most Bills fans would have been pretty happy with the line Davis put up in 2022 if you told them that was what he would do in his third year. The problem, of course, is that Davis went off in the postseason that year, raising expectations to such heights that anything other than an 80-catch, 1,000-yard season was likely to be viewed as a disappointment. We may well see that dominant season this year, especially if Davis can stay healthy, as he has been one of the stars of camp so far.
Davis has all the physical traits in the world, and he’s always been a great route runner. He wins contested catches at the high point, he makes tough catches on the sideline, and he’s one of the NFL’s premier deep threats. He’s also been prone to maddening bouts of the dropsies at inopportune times, something that is hopefully an attribute of the past. With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, there’s been no word about extension talks of yet. It won’t surprise me if the team and Davis agree to a contract, but I also wouldn’t be shocked to see Davis bet on himself having a huge year in order to earn himself a huge contract elsewhere for next season.
If Davis can stay healthy and cut his drops, it’s not crazy to expect him to catch 55-65 passes for over 1,000 yards. A big year from Davis would go a long way towards solidifying Buffalo’s offense as one of the best in football.