One of the first things NFL coaches and executives tell rookies is to ignore the numbers. No matter how many qualified bodies are ahead of them on the offseason depth chart, the advice is always to keep your head down, preferably buried in the playbook.
Still, with the amount of talent the Bills have compiled at wide receiver, the amount of quality can’t be ignored.
Beyond Stefon Diggs, who just signed a rich contract extension, there’s rising third-year star Gabriel Davis, who has produced career highs in receptions (eight), yards (201) and touchdowns (four) in the Bills’ playoff loss to Kansas City last January, and accomplished newcomer Jamison Crowder, to name a few.
So begins our second in a series featuring the most compelling lineup battles of boot camp.
The main actors :
- Stefan Diggs
- Gabriel Davis
- Jamison Crowder
- Isaiah McKenzie
- Jake Kumerow
- Mark Stevenson
- Isaiah Hodgins
- Tanner Gentry
- Khalil Chakir
- Neil Pau’u
- malik williams
The Bills will keep six at most on the active roster, with four locks in Diggs, Davis, Crowder and McKenzie to go with a highly likely rookie in Shakir.
That means the others will likely fight for a spot on the roster, provided everyone stays healthy and the Bills don’t do anything more to bolster that deep position.
The real battle, however, will be how the football is distributed beyond Diggs, who is destined to remain quarterback Josh Allen’s favorite target until death do them part.
Davis certainly looked ready at the end of last season to play the No. 2 outside role vacated by Emmanuel Sanders, who was not re-signed after his contract expired.
Scroll to continue
General manager Brandon Beane was certainly impressed.
“You know, Gabriel is a stallion and I mean in [every] meaning,” Beane said. “His habits, you know, he’s serious about football. Y’all remember when we turned the pick [in the 2020 NFL Draft] and the guy is outside training. He is so motivated. And it’s not wrong. Some people will do it for fakes. It’s him.
“He’s just had a hell of a game to finish our season and put it on the map, and he’s had two good [training] fields. He was probably a bit sloppy in this offense [the first two seasons], but when his number is called – go back to that Colts game a year ago in the playoffs. We wouldn’t have won this game if we didn’t have Gabe Davis. … And then obviously the plays he made last year and then in the Chiefs game. “
Beane is very impressed with how Davis always seems ready to play.
“He’s got this look, like tiger eye,” Beane said. “I will go to war with Gabe Davis any day of the week.”
The lunge position will carry the most intrigue. McKenzie, Crowder and Shakir should provide exciting competition for the role the late Cole Beasley played almost exclusively for the previous three seasons.
McKenzie’s contract was up at the end of 2021, but he then signed a new two-year contract. That was before Beane decided to take no chances and add the accomplished Crowder in free agency and then draft Shakir, who is widely considered one of the best value picks in the entire draft of the League. NFL after falling in the fifth round.
Mike Giardi of NFL Network said “many NFL executives were stunned that he ended up in the fifth round.”
Giardi also called him a “Swiss army knife” for his ability to line up in the backfield as well as out.
“I think he’ll be a weapon for the Bills sooner rather than later,” Giardi added.
Let the action begin.