Despite being a fourth-rounder just two years ago, only one third-year wideout has amassed 13 or more touchdown receptions in his first two NFL seasons. Any guesses? While Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson was an easy first pick, I’d bet a good amount of cash that Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis was not your second choice. An underutilized talent that has patiently waited his turn for the spotlight, Davis’ third season working in tandem with Josh Allen could introduce one of the biggest breakout stars in all of football.
While Stefon Diggs headlines Buffalo’s perimeter arsenal, the departures of Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders from last year’s Bills offense have opened up more than 180 targets for Allen to use at his disposal. A well-balanced attack that ranks among the league’s elite, although new faces in Jamison Crowder, Khalil Shakir, and James Cook will surely earn their helping of touches this fall, the spotlight has never been brighter on Davis, and his skill set could thrive as the Bills eye their first-ever Lombardi trophy.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, I understand touchdown production doesn’t equate to a player’s overall prowess on the outside. But in a game where the most points win, Davis has a knack for finding his way to paydirt in 32 career regular-season games played. 125 targets won’t blow anyone out of the water, but 70 catches for 1,148 yards should raise a few eyebrows considering the limited target share he’s enjoyed since arriving in Buffalo. And while his numbers from 2020 to 2021 are eerily similar to each other in nearly every major statistical category, a massive uptick in work should lie at the feet of Davis this season as teams prepare to counter the presence of Diggs, Allen’s mobility, and what is expected to be an improved ground game.
The saying often goes that when granted an opportunity one either thrives under duress or crumbles amidst the pressure of performance. When it comes to Davis, his most recent performance when awarded with targets saw a player dominate an opposing secondary. Although he had just one performance over the century mark in yards (Week 10 against the Jets) last year, the last time we saw Davis running routes on NFL-branded turf, it resulted in one of the league’s most historic playoff performances at the wideout spot—he totaled eight receptions on 10 targets for a gaudy 201 yards and not one, not two, not three, but four touchdowns in Buffalo’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round.
“I understand that, you know, it was a great game,” Gabriel Davis said. “I loved it. It was the biggest blessing in my life that ever happened to me. But the future’s now and we got to move on.”
This season should allow Davis’ skill set to further blossom into a high-impact talent for Buffalo, and the focus for the talented wideout remains clear with Super Bowl expectations high in western New York.
“It’s time for Year 3.”