Bills GM pumps brakes on Keon Coleman hype: There will be 'bumps in the road'

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane gave an interesting answer when asked about rookie wideout Keon Coleman at mandatory minicamp.
Nov 11, 2023; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4) celebrates a touchdown score against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 11, 2023; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4) celebrates a touchdown score against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports / Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The fan anticipation floating around Buffalo Bills rookie wide receiver Keon Coleman can perhaps best be likened to a boulder rolling down a large hill—it’s picked up momentum as it’s inched closer to its final destination, and if precautions aren’t taken now, people could get (figuratively) hurt.

Hopes have always been high for the former Florida State Seminole; the trait-sy 6-foot-3 pass-catcher caught 50 passes for 658 yards and 11 touchdowns in his sole season in Tallahassee, sticking out as one of the ‘higher-ceiling’ prospects in a 2024 NFL Draft class that was in no way devoid of talented wideouts. He’s done nothing but improve his stock since being selected by the Bills in the second round of the draft, endearing himself to the Buffalo faithful with his genuine personality before earning praise from quarterback Josh Allen at optional OTAs.

The fanbase—and team itself—is expecting a lot from Coleman in his debut campaign, as the 21-year-old projects as the Bills’ X wide receiver given the offseason departure of perennial Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs. General manager Brandon Beane is pumping the brakes on the hype train, a bit; he spoke about the receiver after the conclusion of the team’s recent mandatory minicamp, expressing optimism about the wideout while simultaneously stressing the differences between the collegiate and professional games and the general importance of reality.

“I think Keon has worked hard,” Beane said. “Like anything, [a] college playbook versus an NFL playbook, big difference. The verbiage, where he’s lining up, the sight adjust[ments], all the variances he has to do. Even just what we ask in the run game for our guys, I don’t know specifically what he was asked there. Some schools, there’s very little, it’s just like, if it’s not a pass play, take a play off. That’s not here. He’s got to be involved in all phases of our offense. 

“But I see a guy who is working hard, who is competitive. You guys have gotten to know his personality, he’s genuine, that’s truly who he is. Like anything, he’s going to have bumps in the road. He’s a rookie, and I think we all need to understand that. I think he and Josh are working on that rapport that’s going to be necessary between quarterback and receiver.”

Related: NFL writer believes this WR will have career comeback with Bills

Though Beane’s response has sparked its fair share of ‘eyeball emojis’ on social media, he didn’t say anything particularly shocking or alarming. There are obvious and objective differences between the collegiate and professional games—anyone who was expecting Coleman to pick up all the intricacies of a new level within a few weeks was simply being unrealistic. The executive also touches on the differences between the receiver’s college and NFL playbooks, a contrast Coleman himself talked about at last month’s rookie minicamp; the Louisiana native then told reporters that there was “a lot different” between the Florida State and Buffalo offenses.

Beane’s comments, sure, imply that Coleman doesn’t yet look like a dominant boundary wideout; the executive would likely be the first to tell you he didn’t expect the rookie to look like an elite receiver after a handful of padless practices.

The more encouraging—and potentially important—elements of Beane’s response are his comments about Coleman’s character and work ethic, as that will be the determining factor in whether he improves on his current raw state. Beane's comments are in no way bleak, despite what social media would suggest; sorry, but the sky isn't falling in Buffalo.

The rookie may not look like an All-Pro in June. Thankfully, games aren’t played until September.


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Kyle Silagyi

KYLE SILAGYI