WR David Sills V could be the Buffalo Bills 2019 UDFA star
By Avery Duncan
Nobody expected WR David Sills V to go undrafted, but when he did, the Buffalo Bills made the right move and snatched him up.
Since being hired in 2017 to head coach the Buffalo Bills, Sean McDermott and his coaching staff have ept in finding and developing undrafted players. In 2017, the Bills added WR-TE convert Jason Croom; a promising prospect entering year three. In 2018, the team went big in the UDFA market, adding Alabama prospects Levi Wallace and Robert Foster. Both are either starters or have the potential to do so.
In 2019, McDermott and the Bills hope to continue their positive trend of adding and developing unheralded UDFA talent. There most prominent addition, WR David Sills V, was a lauded pickup. But most thought he wouldn’t have been available, as he carried a consensus middle-round grade.
Sills’ story to the NFL is unforgettable. As a seventh-grade quarterback prospect, he was offered to play at USC by Lane Kiffin. But, that didn’t quite work out. He wound up at West Virginia, then went to a JUCO to play quarterback. Again, that didn’t quite work out. He transferred back to West Virginia to play receiver, and proceed to dominate Big-12 defenses.
In two seasons as a starting wide-out, Sills tallied 125 receptions for 1,980 yards and 33 (!) touchdowns. Then, at the combine, Sills backed up his production with a good performance. He recorded a 4.57 second 40-yard-dash, 37.5-inch vertical jump, 117-inch broad jump, and 6.97-second three-cone-drill. He also measured in at a solid 6-foot-3, 211-pounds.
Yet, despite his production and solid combine performance, Sills found himself slipping to the UDFA market. Why?
Sills’ lack of experience playing the position was likely a huge factor. Another reason may be due to his lack of horizontal route-tree, muscle mass, foot speed against the press, and separation creating abilities. Though he has his notable weaknesses, the Bills may have gotten another steal in the UDFA pool.
Sills offers a unique skill set to the Bills. His background as a quarterback shows on every play. He possesses an advanced understanding of leverage, spacing, and coverages that not many receivers have. But his production doesn’t just stem from his background; he looked the part of a red-zone ace at West Virginia.
The owner of a 6-foot-3 frame and 37.5-inch vertical, Sills has little issues climbing the latter to make a contested catch. He runs a beautiful fade route, can contort his body mid-air to adjust for tight spaces, and has good ball tracking + concentration skills. His game that is best described as a “possession receiver,” at times gives one flashes of Alshon Jeffery.
In Morgantown, Sills proved to be a go-to red-zone option for Will Grier. But, he did more than that. Though his footwork needs to be sped up, his high football IQ and creativeness were lethal for pressing cornerbacks. His developed and well-run vertical route tree was beneficial on deep-ball passes as well. Per Pro Football Focus, he had 15 20+ yard receptions in 2018, good for eighth in the 2019 class for receivers.
As it currently stands, the Bills would benefit most from Sills in the red-zone. The team doesn’t have a true “go up and get it” wide receiver on the roster, and he’s just that. However, behind a suddenly deep receiver depth chart, Sills has his work cut out for him.
For Sills to make the roster, he will need to show development in his versatility and horizontal route-running. Though he would be best as a Z-receiver, his game that feasts on that high football IQ could theoretically work well in a “big slot” role. To do so, his drop issues must be fixed as well, and he’s not uber-effective after the catch; again, he needs to speed up his footwork against the press too.
Despite Sills’ areas of improvement, there is little doubt that the Bills nabbed an excellent prospect without having to use a draft pick. The West Virginia product has a steep learning curve to be a productive NFL wide receiver. But, he’s a unique talent, that shouldn’t have been passed up 254 times. If the Bills can hone his abilities and develop him into a complete receiver, the name Sills won’t be forgotten.
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