Bills WR Keon Coleman named non-first round pick with best chance to star

ESPN has identified Buffalo Bills wide receiver Keon Coleman as the non-first round pick with the best chance to make an immediate impact for their team.
Nov 11, 2023; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4)
Nov 11, 2023; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4) / Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a cliché that’s oft-repeated through the NFL Draft process—”a prospect’s landing spot is as important as their talent.”

Keon Coleman is one of the lucky few with favorable forecasts in each department.

The wide receiver is demonstrably talented, tallying 50 receptions for 658 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Florida State Seminoles last season. He has plus athleticism and elite ball skills in a 6-foot-3 frame, his unique blend of size, play speed, and physicality making him, in theory, a prototypical alpha wide receiver.

The Buffalo Bills will be the team that will attempt to manifest theory into reality, as they selected Coleman with the 33rd overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. There perhaps wasn’t a more advantageous landing spot in the draft for the 20-year-old; he will not only be paired with an otherworldly signal-caller in quarterback Josh Allen, but he also becomes the immediate centerpiece of a Buffalo receiving corps that moved on from veterans Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis in the offseason. General manager Brandon Beane has already stated that the team views him as their ‘X,’ or primary boundary, wide receiver.

Place objective talent in an auspicious situation, and you have the makings of something potentially special.

Related: Do oddsmakers project a fifth-straight AFC East title for Bills?

Though suggesting that Coleman will seamlessly replace Diggs (or even Davis) as a rookie is likely a bit too optimistic at this juncture, the former Florida State standout will have every opportunity to succeed straight away. He’ll play significant snaps and likely carve out a substantial target share in an aerial attack helmed by one of the best quarterbacks in professional football—you’d be forgiven for being excited.

ESPN insider Field Yates shares this optimism and excitement; the writer recently ranked Coleman as the non-first-round pick with the best opportunity to make an immediate offensive impact for their team, even suggesting that the rookie may lead the Bills in scores.

“Coleman was the first pick in the second round and the only wide receiver taken by a team that had as big of a need there as anyone in the league,” Yates wrote. “His massive 6-foot-3, 213-pound frame and wide catch radius should make him a red zone favorite for quarterback Josh Allen, and he could certainly lead the Bills in touchdowns this season. Coleman scored 11 of them last season at Florida State.”

Yates alludes to the idea of Coleman’s situation being favorable in his blurb, but he perhaps undersells the idea—the rookie is competing for targets with the likes of third-year pass catcher Khalil Shakir and the recently signed Curtis Samuel in the receiving corps, two players who haven’t necessarily been worldbeaters throughout their respective stints in the NFL. While Shakir has shown promise in spot duty (particularly down the stretch in the 2023 season) and Samuel is reuniting with an offensive coordinator who has brought him success in the past in Joe Brady, neither have produced gawking stat lines, topping out at 611 and 851 receiving yards in a single season, respectively.

And even if Coleman can’t firmly beat out Shakir and/or Samuel in the pecking order, there are plenty of targets to go around; Diggs and Davis combined for 152 receptions for 1,929 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, meaning that roughly 2,000 aerial yards need to be made up.

Coleman can’t be expected to be an elite wide receiver immediately, but his situation is certainly advantageous. His adjustment to the offense and professional game, in general, will be fascinating to track throughout the summer. 

Kyle Silagyi