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Khalil Shakir may not be a prospect that everyone knows or may be overlooking, but it’s time to change that. Shakir was a fifth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills, by Brandon Beane, and could be the biggest steal of the entire event. In an interview following the draft, Beane explained that multiple fellow managers contacted him regarding the pick of Shakir and called him not-so-nice names. If that doesn’t get you excited as a fanbase, I’m not sure what will.
Shakir wasn’t the most touted prospect coming out of high school or into the draft. In college, he was known to not work back to the ball or fight through contested catches well. He’s always been considered somewhat undersized as an outside receiver but what he lacked in size he makes up with in route running and quickness.
Extra Sauce With Blue Cheese, Please!
During the draft process, Shakir showed the ability to move quickly but was also explosive. He ran an official 4.43 40-yard dash with a 4.21 short shuttle and a 7.28 three-cone drill. His route tree may be his most impressive trait next to his ability to catch the ball away from his body. NFL.com touted Shakir as being a “coach’s dream” and “more a football player than a traditional slot receiver.” They couldn’t have been more correct.
Before the draft, it was presumed Jamison Crowder would be the featured slot receiver with Isaiah McKenzie being the gadget player he’s been the past few seasons. Now through training camp with Crowder dealing with lingering injuries and being unavailable, McKenzie seems to have stepped up into the featured slot role with Khalil Shakir turning into the fourth receiver and gadget player.
Where Does The Efficient Shakir Fit In The Offense?
As stated before Shakir looks to be stepping into the gadget role player in the Bills’ offense. That means he will be the one in motion running jet sweeps and keeping the defense disciplined and honoring the lateral game the Bills are willing to play. We have seen it pay off in the past with players like McKenzie or John Brown. Many different plays can come out of the jet motion like the famous pass-back play to Josh Allen that the Bills ran in the playoff game against the Texans a few years ago.
With Ken Dorsey coming in as the new offensive coordinator there are bound to be new wrinkles in the offense. With Buffalo working out of more than two wide receivers, two tight ends, and one running back sets, there’s bound to be times when Dorsey will be creative to get the ball into the shifty wide receivers’ hands.
How Does The Depth Chart Shake Out
With McKenzie being the new favorite for the starting slot position, it looks like incoming free agent Jamison Crowder may be fighting for the same spot on the Bills’ depth chart. Usually, the Bills keep six receivers on their active roster with 2021 being the only year in the McBeane era they kept seven receivers. With Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, and Isaiah McKenzie being roster locks as the top receivers on the team. That leaves three spots to be claimed.
With Jake “Touchdown Jesus” Kumerow as a staple four-phase special teams player while including outside receiver depth, it looks like he will also be a roster lock dropping the availability to two. Tavon Austin is a name that keeps popping up in reports from camp as a stand-out receiver. He has return ability that the Bills have struggled to find since the departure of All-Pro returner Andre Roberts. While Shakir has limited time as a returner as well, that may be a job he also looks to claim to receive more time on the field.
Bills Official Receiving Room Prediction
With all that said and done it’s time we break down how this receiving room will finally shake out. With the obvious Gabe Davis, Stefon Diggs, and Isaiah McKenzie locked in it’s time to find out who will and won’t make the 53-man roster. Beane and McDermott have always leaned on the side of draft picks when it comes down to it no matter the position. The two of them would rather rely on their coaching staff to grow players from within.
With the top three spots called for at the position, it’s clear Khalil Shakir will make the roster as the fourth or fifth receiver and maybe even the gadget player we spoke of or as a return man. I believe the coaching staff likes what Jamison Crowder brings to the field as a slot and limited ability as a returner. Crowder was signed seemingly early in the free agency period which means he was a target by the upper management.
After Shakir and Crowder, that leaves just one spot. Between Tavon Austin, Jake Kumerow, and not forgetting Isaiah Hodgins or Tanner Gentry they all have separate abilities they could bring to the team. We spoke of Austin and Kumerow earlier. Hodgins brings a size element that only Gabe Davis brings to the roster and Gentry was Josh Allen’s college friend and receiver with the two of them having an uncanny relationship. When it all breaks down, I believe the coaching staff will look at Kumerow’s special teams ability and outside receiving ability as the biggest benefit and will be the sixth receiver kept.
From top to bottom I predict the receiving room to be Diggs, Davis, McKenzie, Shakir, Crowder, and Kumerow. Shakir will be the gadget player we spoke of with Crowder being the main backup for McKenzie and Kumerow will mainly be a special teams staple while spelling Diggs or Davis for a random play here and there. Shakir has the opportunity to win a returner position while finishing the year with around 30-40 receptions and maybe five rushes. If he does that Shakir will have similar stats to Gabe Davis the past two seasons.
Enjoy Your Wings!
Bills Mafia was clamoring for Davis to take over the number two receiver position after having 35 receptions each of his two seasons. If Shakir does that Buffalo may have a young three-headed monster at wide receiver. That must be music to Josh Allen’s ears. So, from Bills Mafia to you Khalil Shakir, welcome to Buffalo, we can’t wait to see you on the field this season and enjoy your wings!
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