Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis already had his coming-out party in last season’s NFL playoffs, smashing records and turning into a near-unstoppable target for Josh Allen.
Next comes a full breakout season, an insider predicts.
NFL.com’s Adam Schein named Davis as one of the league’s top breakout candidates for 2022, noting that he will follow up his record-setting playoff run with an entire season of brilliance. Schein predicted that Davis will form a formidable duo with Buffalo’s All-Pro receiver, building on the performance from last season’s playoff run.
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Breakout Season for Davis
As Schein noted, the Bills lost a pair of veteran wide receivers who combined for a total of 189 targets — nearly 30 percent of the team’s total targets for the season. But he believes Davis is ready to step in to fill that void and challenge Stefon Diggs for the primary pass-catcher at times.
“No Cole Beasley? No Emmanuel Sanders? No problem,” Schein wrote. “It is Gabriel Davis’ time to play Robin to Stefon Diggs’ Batman. And shoot, sometimes the Boy Wonder will take the leading role.”
Davis flashed that potential in the team’s last game of the season, breaking an NFL record with four touchdown catches in a divisional-round playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Davis had eight catches for 201 yards in the game.
Schein noted that Bills quarterback Josh Allen has raved about Davis’s ability.
“This guy’s the truth, with 18 touchdowns in 37 career games (including the playoffs),” Schein wrote. “He’s a big-bodied deep threat with stellar hands. No wonder his quarterback loves him.”
The Bills took some criticism for failing to utilize Davis, especially early in the 2021 season. As Nick Fierro of SI.com’s Bills Central noted, Davis had just 17 targets and 10 catches through the first eight games of last season, which he called “flat-out malpractice” for the Bills coaching staff. Davis saw his share of targets steadily increase over the rest of the season as other receivers dealt with injuries and COVID-19 absences. By the end of the season, Davis had 35 catches on 63 targets, racking up 549 yards and six touchdowns.
The Bills did add some new weapons for Josh Allen, offsetting the losses of Beasley and Sanders by signing slot receiver Jamison Crowder and drafting Boise State receiver Khalil Shakir. But Davis appears to be on track to be the team’s No. 2 receiver behind Diggs, with a much larger share of targets in 2022.
Davis Earns Praise from Teammates
It’s not just outsiders predicting a big season for Davis. Former teammate Emmanuel Sanders had some big praise for the 23-year-old receiver, comparing Davis to some of the Hall of Fame teammates he’s had in the past.
“I’ve been around a lot of good receivers. He’s a Pro Bowl-caliber player,” Sanders said during an appearance on Good Morning Football. “This guy, the way he attacks the football, you give him the opportunity to start? Think about what he did in the Kansas City Chiefs game. … I feel like he’s going to have a breakout year. He’s a Pro Bowl-caliber player. I’ve been around a lot of good receivers — Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, Michael Thomas. This guy is different, and he’s going to be a difference-maker for them.”