Coming into last season, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis was a popular pick among those looking for a potential breakout player. He was coming off a solid second NFL season that ended with an outrageous four-touchdown performance in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs, so it made sense to expect that he would ascend.
In Week 1 of the 2022 season, he rose to the occasion with four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. But he also sustained an ankle injury, and it threw him off for the rest of the year.
"Hurting my ankle the way I did ... I just felt like I lost a step," Davis recently said, via USA Today. "Really couldn't do the things that I wanted to do that I was doing early that [in 2022 training] camp. So it definitely was something that I was struggling with mentally, just having that pain on my ankle, trying to figure out ways to get my head out of it and kind of just play my game."
Now heading into Year 4 of his NFL career, Davis' teammate, Stefon Diggs, thinks the breakout is coming.
"I feel like Gabe Davis will have a breakout year," Diggs said. "I feel like he had got nicked up a little early last year, but I think this year he's gonna have an amazing year. He's damn near WR1 in my eyes. I feel like if I wasn't here, Gabe Davis would be a WR1 and it's something that I can hang my hat on when I say that. He's an extremely hard worker."
In three NFL seasons, Davis has caught 35 passes for 599 yards and seven touchdowns, 35 passes for 549 yards and six touchdowns, and 48 passes for 836 yards and seven touchdowns. He operates primarily as a deep threat for Josh Allen, but offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey indicated that the Bills have more in mind for him than just that this coming season.
"He's a very big piece of what we've got here," Dorsey said. "He goes in there and he runs the deep routes, and he obviously doesn't get a huge volume of targets in the last couple of years, but he's still produced some really big numbers. And again, trying to maybe get some more easy ones for him and allow him to catch and run. The way that he works is very inspiring. Guys see that, and it makes guys work harder."
If Davis can diversify the way he contributes to the passing game, and if first-round pick Dalton Kincaid can step in and contribute right away, that would help make defenses pay for devoting so much attention to Diggs -- and perhaps even open things up for him by drawing some of that attention elsewhere. And that could take Buffalo's passing game to another level.