I’m not alone in expecting the Bills offense to take a leap forward in 2020. Josh Allen will enter his 3rd year as a starter. Devin Singletary should build off a solid rookie season, and Zack Moss adds another young stud back full of potential. Stefon Diggs joins John Brown and Cole Beasley in what is suddenly one of the better receiving units in the AFC. But don’t forget about the young man out of Central Florida who the Bills selected in the 4th round of the draft. Start paying attention to Gabriel Davis. He’s going to be an important part of the Buffalo offense.
Davis was a star in college but didn’t quite get the same headlines as the guys who played in Power 5 conferences. In 2019, Davis led the Knights with 72 catches for 1,241 yards and 12 TDs. He was a big play waiting to happen, averaging over 17 yards per reception. His production was good enough to garner first-team All-Conference and third-team All-American honors.
Primed for a Big Rookie Season
I love the breakout potential for Davis this year. Assuming Diggs is back and healthy to start the year, Davis isn’t in line to start. He’s going to find his way onto the field regardless, as he has too much talent to stay on the sideline. Davis also has the benefit of having the size other Bills receivers are lacking. At 6’2, 216 lbs, he’ll be bigger than any of the starting receivers. Stefon Diggs plays like a bigger receiver but he’s only 6’0 himself. Whenever the Bills offense is in the red zone, expect Davis to be in the game.
Another reason to love Davis is his technique. He’s already a good route runner, quick and strong off the line of scrimmage, uses his body to his advantage, and catches the ball with strong hands. In this clip from practice the other day, you can see the talent Davis possesses. Matched up against Levi Wallace, a solid NFL corner, Davis gives him the business. He gets off the line with authority, quickly uses his size to get Wallace behind him, shows strength at the top of the route when Wallace tries to hold him, and then goes up and snatches the ball for an easy score. (And the throw from Allen was a dime. Just sayin’.)
Gabriel Davis vs. Levi Wallace pic.twitter.com/VrMyn19vZA— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) August 30, 2020
I think it’s fair to wonder if Diggs will be available for 16 games this season. Through 5 NFL seasons, Diggs has yet to play a full 16 game slate. The odds seem pretty good that he’ll miss a game or two, giving Davis a chance to start and shine. It’s a luxury to know that if something happens to your alpha WR, you’ve got a young guy with as much as talent and upside as Gabriel Davis to throw in there.
Gabriel Davis reminds me of a young receiver from my hometown Detroit Lions: Kenny Golladay. The similarities are striking. They have a very similar build, though Golladay is 2 inches taller. The rest of their measurables (40 time, arm length, vertical jump, broad jump, hand size, and three-cone drill) are nearly identical. The college numbers are similar. Golladay was taken late in the 3rd round, Davis in the 4th. Both came into situations where they were expected to play a secondary role early on.
After a promising rookie season, Golladay went over 1,000 yards in his next two seasons and led the league last year in TDs (11) and yards per reception (18.3). Golladay came into the league as a small school receiver with a nice blend of size and speedDon’t be surprised if we look back in a few years and see Davis on a similar trek.
Rookie Year: What to Expect
Davis isn’t likely going to set the league on fire as a rookie but he’ll play an important role on the Bills offense. He’ll have games where he’s very quiet, but I also expect he’ll have some games where he makes some big, game-changing plays.
Golladay’s rookie line: 28 receptions, 477 yards, 3 TDs (17.0 avg) in 11 games (5 starts). I think Davis’ impact will be similar.
Stat Prediction: 32 receptions, 505 yards, 5 TDs (15.8 avg)