The Buffalo Bills’ season ended with a heartbreaking overtime loss against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. While the last taste in the mouths of Bills fans might be a bit sour, the future of the team is sweet.
Last year, Buffalo finished with a 11-6 record and clinched the AFC East division. Quarterback Josh Allen had another great season, tossing for 4,407 yards and 36 touchdowns, plus scoring six more times on the ground. But is there a way the Bills can go further than the previous years?
There are still questions on who will step up to some of the losses from last year’s roster, and there are some hidden gems who can be a solution to fill those gaps.
Perhaps some of the solutions are already in Buffalo. Here 2 hidden gems for the Bills in the 2022 NFL season.
Watch NFL games LIVE with fuboTV (click for free trial)
Bills Hidden Gems on 2022 Roster
Wide receiver, return specialist Isaiah McKenzie
Although he has been with the Bills since 2018, Isaiah McKenzie could have his breakout year in 2022. Being most used as a return specialist, the former Georgia Bulldog returned 24 kicks for 584 yards. However, when starter Cole Beasley had to sit out after testing positive for COVID-19 on week 16, McKenzie stepped up against the New England Patriots and caught 11 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Isaiah McKenzie appreciation post.
— Built in Buffalo (@BuiltInBuffalo_) April 12, 2022
With the Bills releasing Beasley to free agency, McKenzie has the chance to prove he can do more than focus on returns and help Allen’s offense. Allen said McKenzie has been one of the highlights of spring practice.
“We’re communicating like him and Bease were communicating,” McKenzie said to reporters last month. “I want that chemistry that they had the past few years they had. I want that
“We’re gonna have to speed it up a little because the season is right around the corner.”
With the Bills signing veteran Jamison Crowder and Gabriel Davis having a record-breaking playoff game versus the Chiefs, McKenzie will still have to fight for his spot, but nothing different from the past years.
Cornerback Dane Jackson
With two-time Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White recovering from a torn ACL suffered last season, the Bills decided to take a cornerback in the first round of the NFL Draft in Florida’s Kaiir Elam.
However, Dane Jackson was able to do a solid job when his name was called last season. Playing all 17 games and starting six of them, the former Pittsburgh Panther had 41 combined tackles with 33 solos, plus six pass deflections. In two playoff games, Jackson started in both and had nine solo tackles, while also adding a tackle for loss.
“Dane’s a winner,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said in a press conference. “He is committed. He’s one of the first here every morning, one of the last to leave.
“Comes in on his own, even on the weekends at times, and he’s a true pro.”
Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said in a press conference that Jackson is one of the best young tackling corners in the league.
With uncertainties surrounding White’s health and how rookie Elam will perform in the big league, Jackson has the potential to earn an even bigger role in 2022 on the Bills’ defensive rotation.
Despite losing some important pieces, Buffalo might not have to look very far to find their replacements. Based on the comments from teammates and coaching staff, McKenzie and Jackson should have more opportunities in 2022 and should be ready when their names are called.