Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis is expected to produce a breakout season in 2022. While he’s displayed plenty of flashes across his first two seasons, hauling in a playoff-record four touchdowns on eight receptions for 201 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Bills’ Divisional Round loss created quite the buzz about what he can accomplish in his third season.
Now the clear No. 2 wide receiver in Buffalo, the path is paved for Davis to command a significant increase in opportunities to make plays in the Bill’s offense moving forward. In Davis’ first two seasons, he was Buffalo’s No. 4 receiver behind Stefon Diggs, John Brown/Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley in the slot.
Being the No. 4 receiver and fifth option in the passing game was actually a benefit to Davis in his first two seasons, though. He enjoyed his share of favorable matchups given the amount of attention opposing defenses placed on the Bills’ other weapons.
With Beasley and Sanders no longer in the mix, that frees up 184 targets from 2021 that are now available to be claimed and Davis is primed to eat up a notable chunk of them. With 63 targets in 2021, that number figures to double for Davis in 2022.
How will he respond to more opportunities? The answer to that question is critical in Buffalo meeting the lofty expectations placed on them and continuing to field a top offense under a new offensive coordinator with several new additions.
Since getting drafted by the Bills, the coaches and players have raved about Davis. They praise his work ethic, habits, versatility, intelligence and commitment to getting better. So far that has turned into steady improvements on the field across Davis’ first two seasons.
The box score won’t show much of a statistical difference in how Davis fared from his rookie to second season. In 2020, he caught 35 passes for 599 yards with seven touchdowns and in 2021, Davis collected 35 receptions for 549 yards and six touchdowns. While the production was nearly identical, the numbers don’t tell the story of how Davis’ got better in year two and why there’s so much hype for year three.
Overall, Davis was more consistent with the targets he did receive while showcasing a more expansive and diverse route tree. His ball skills and size saw him win more in contested situations and his consistency as a blocker was notably improved. Given the amount of 10 and 11-personnel that the Bills run, the blocking component matters.
Davis’ 2021 season heated up as it went along. Davis played 16 games in 2021 and received just 17 targets in his first eight games. That number increased to 46 over the last eight.
“He’s a guy that always does the right things,” Allen said about Davis. “Coming in, it doesn’t feel real that he’s only a second-year guy in the league. It feels like he’s been here so much longer than that, but for him to do that (against the Chiefs) was unbelievable. At the start of the season, he was begging for more opportunities. I just told him, ‘Stay the course,’ and that’s exactly what he did. He didn’t complain, he didn’t pout, he didn’t give up. He just put his head down and worked his (butt) off.”
The scenario is ripe for Davis to produce in 2022. He’s now the starter across from Diggs with an elite quarterback throwing him the football. If his four-touchdown playoff performance didn’t put him fully into the spotlight, it won’t take long for Davis to not be a secret anymore.