Bills’ WR Gabe Davis had one of the greatest postseason performances in NFL history in the last game he played. All signs are pointing to him taking that experience and building on it, in hopes to become more than just a ‘solid’ receiver, but one that makes the Pro Bowl roster.
After being drafted 128th overall in the 2020 NFL draft, many viewed UCF wide receiver Gabriel Davis as a big, strong go up and get it type player, who excelled the most in the red zone. However, what Davis has become after just two full seasons in the league has been nothing short of impressive.
As a rookie, Davis caught 35 passes for 599 yards and 7 scores, while notching just under 10 yards per reception. He made plays all over the field, not just in the red zone. He had better route running than draft analysts gave him credit for, and his speed wasn’t anything exceptional, but with the likes of Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie playing alongside him, he didn’t need to be the fastest player on the field to still make an impact.
The brass tabbed him as a good solid young piece for the Bills, and someone who had a chance to really improve in his sophomore season and beyond. He finished his rookie campaign on a high note, making a pair of fantastic sideline catches in the Wild Card matchup against Indianapolis, and followed it up with solid performances against Baltimore and Kansas City as well. Perhaps not putting up elite statistical games, his presence was felt, and the offense certainly flowed better when Davis was on the field running routes.
Showing Signs of Improvement?
Per the numbers, Davis didn’t make any drastic improvements from year one to two. However, he certainly became more involved in the Bills’ offense, which was considered one of the league elites once again in 2021. Rising to the top of his game in big situations, Davis made most of his touchdown catches in the clutch, as he caught four of his six TD’s during the season either late in the third quarter, or anytime during the fourth.
He is never thought of as a “star” caliber receiver, but some of the plays he is able to make may go against that theory. On a sunny day in Tampa Bay, Florida, in a week fourteen showdown between the Buccaneers and the Bills, Buffalo was down to perhaps their final opportunity to make a 24-point comeback.
On fourth down, quarterback Josh Allen made a quick read to Gabe, and while he didn’t gain the first down yardage needed at first, he pushed one defender off him, made another fall backwards, and made a play, creating a first down out of essentially nothing, giving the Bills offense one more chance to win the game. Though Buffalo would go on to lose that thrilling contest in overtime, plays like this made Davis who he is; a smart, strong, gutsy player who makes plays for his team when they seem near impossible.
His Postseason Heroics
In the two games he played in the 2021 postseason, Gabe Davis scored five times, nearly equaling his six he scored in the entirety of the eighteen-game regular season. He will always be remembered in Buffalo for his heroics in the AFC Divisional game against Kansas City, where Allen found him four times in the end zone, two of which put his side in front with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
The four touchdowns set a new record, as no player had ever caught more than three in any playoff game. Afterwards, Davis mentioned if Buffalo got the ball in overtime, they would be talking about how he had five, visibly upset after the heartbreaking loss.
In the other playoff game, which was at home against New England, Davis made a touchdown catch and served as a decoy for guys such as Dawson Knox, Isaiah McKenzie and Devin Singletary to have big games. After coming into the league as a fringe starter, Gabe has made stride after stride, landing him the WR2 position in just his third season.
Building For The Future
In the offseason, Davis worked, and transformed his body. Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus had a quick conversation with Davis’ personal trainer, Bert Whigham, who told him that Davis has not missed a workout since the 2021 season ended and now weighs 227. Whigham said Davis played last season at around 220, and the Bills list him at 210. Whigham said “He’s bigger, faster, stronger.” “He’s put on muscle. People say that’s too big, but he’s 23 years old. He’s just growing into his natural body. You’re going to see a big receiver.” (Whigham)
It’s frightening to think that a guy with Davis’ skill set is apparently going to be a faster and bigger target for Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen, who already tested this new version of Gabe in the team’s second preseason game, where Josh found the former UCF wideout for a 28 yard touchdown, over two Broncos’ defensive backs. The newly found potential that Davis will bring to the Buffalo offense is one of the many reasons why many experts and analysts have touted them as the AFC favorites in the upcoming season.
Season Predictions And Expectations
With everything in mind, I could certainly see Davis make the leap in his third season from a six-hundred-yard receiver to more of a nine hundred or even an a thousand yard receiver, and be at the very least a Pro Bowl reserve. It will be fascinating to see how the young Davis continues to improve and show the league what else he is capable of. The pure connection he possesses with Josh Allen and newly promoted offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will help Gabe reach those heights.