Khalil Shakir an NFL breakout threat in 2024: Bills leaning on 2022 fifth round pick

All eyes on Khalil Shakir in 2024!
Buffalo Bills receiver Khalil Shakir
Buffalo Bills receiver Khalil Shakir / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

The Buffalo Bills offense took two big hits following the 2023 NFL season.  They traded talented, but disgruntled star receiver Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans and loss their No. 2 receiver Gabe Davis in free agency. So, who will be Josh Allen’s main target headed into the 2024 NFL season?

In drafting Keon Coleman with the No. 33 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Bills addressed their wide receiver holes with a talented receiver who will go up and get the ball, but they will be reliant on their 2022 NFL Draft fifth round pick Khalil Shakir to make a major leap in Year 3 and breakout as a prime target for Allen.

A product of Boise State, Shakir entered the NFL as a prototypical football player who didn’t excel at one thing, but with his competitive nature, a player who finds ways to put his stamp on the game, which he did in Year 2 of his NFL career.

Why the time is right for Khalil Shakir to be a Bills breakout performer

With Davis having somewhat of a down season, Shakir really stepped up as the Bills third receiver option in 2023 with 39 receptions for 611 yards and 2 touchdowns.  His huge leap between his rookie season and last season has him in position to have a bigger role in 2024, which is why analyst Bucky Brooks has the third-year receiver as a breakout candidate.

In his article highlighting players on his 2024 All-Breakout team, Brooks writes:

“The trade of Stefon Diggs opened up the WR1 role in the passing game. Although the team drafted Keon Coleman with the 33rd overall pick to potentially fill the void, Shakir could take over as the lead receiver following a 2023 campaign that showcased his potential as a big-play threat (39 catches for 611 yards and two scores). With more opportunities in Joe Brady's scheme, the third-year pro could crack the 1,000-yard mark.”

Without Diggs, the opportunity should be there for Shakir to be Allen’s go-to deep threat when he is extending his time in the pocket.  But, Shakir can’t just been viewed as a deep threat option, he is a possession receiver with the speed to turn short throws into long yardage.  Also, with the addition of Coleman and more utilization of tight ends Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox, Shakir should see also be able to find windows in zone coverage and win battles against defenders sideline to sideline.

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Not to put too much pressure on Shakir, but he could be the difference maker in the Bills’ offense as they aim for a more balanced attack between the run and pass game.  It’s easy to write the Bills off due to the departure of Diggs, Davis and some key defensive players, but if players like Shakir step up and fill those roles, Buffalo will still be a team to be reckoned with in the AFC, especially with a quarterback like Josh Allen manipulating big play after big play with his dual threat ability inside and outside the pocket.