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Bills wide receiver Keon Coleman unfazed by lofty rookie expectations: ‘I’m not Stef, I’m just Keon’

Few rookies have burst onto the NFL scene in 2024 quite like Keon Coleman. Hours after his arrival as a second-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in April, the Florida State product went viral for his colorful personality, adding sudden intrigue to a wide receiver room suddenly devoid of big-name starters Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis.

The added attention hasn’t affected Coleman’s personal outlook, however, even as plenty of Bills fans hope he’ll make an immediate impact for a perceived Super Bowl contender. Recently working out with CBS Sports NFL analyst Bryant McFadden in Frisco, Texas (shown in video below), the rookie receiver talked up his traits while downplaying his nerves.

“Not at all,” Coleman said, when asked if he feels added pressure to replace his predecessors. “All I gotta do is come in, be myself, be who I’m supposed to be … Because I’m not Gabe, I’m not Stef, I’m just Keon. We got a lot of other guys that definitely complement my game … along with [quarterback] Josh [Allen], to make things work.”

And who, exactly, is “Keon”? One thing’s for sure: A big-bodied athlete. At 6-foot-4, the rookie is one of the tallest targets on the Bills’ roster, and his basketball background has him convinced he could also make it in the NBA: “I could get you two corner 3s a game,” he quipped to McFadden. “I can play defense.”

In the meantime, what can fans expect from Coleman as an NFL rookie?

The inherent bravado suggests a future No. 1 role in Buffalo’s aerial attack. The more probable scenario, however, is that Coleman is primarily utilized for his size: Think intermittent quick-strike slot targets, or red-zone opportunities, at least early on.

Since trading Diggs and letting Davis walk in free agency, Bills general manager Brandon Beane has thrown darts at basically every wideout archetype: the gadget utility man (Curtis Samuel), the outside deep threat (Marquez Valdes-Scantling) and the blocking specialist (Mack Hollins). Coupled with incumbent slot outlet Khalil Shakir, who quietly averaged close to 16 yards per catch in 2023, and tight end Dalton Kincaid, who’s perhaps most likely to absorb more targets as Allen’s over-the-middle favorite, that’s a hodgepodge of interchangeable pieces.

Expect the Bills to try all hands at basically every spot, plugging and playing and rotating the options, Coleman included, in order to both 1.) reorder the pecking order in real time and 2.) preserve the health of more experienced faces like Samuel and Valdes-Scantling. Much like the AFC rival Kansas City Chiefs, who’ve consistently leaned on different wideouts since dealing star Tyreek Hill, the Bills may well have a new “standout” receiver each week, which should work both for and against Coleman’s chances of producing immediately.

Size, again, will likely be key when he does take the field. Coleman excelled as an “above-the-rim artist” in college, as NFL Media’s scouting report notes, so he could quickly earn Allen’s trust if naturally afforded red-zone and jump-ball opportunities, a la Allen Robinson or Alshon Jeffery of old. It’s not fair to expect instant Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase-level impact; there’s a reason, after all, Coleman slipped to the top of Day 2 in the draft. Fortunately, though, he’ll start his career with a proven MVP-level signal-caller in Allen.

And, of course, all the gusto it takes to make it at the NFL level.

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Author: Cody Benjamin
July 9, 2024 | 4:10 pm

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