Devin Singletary Has to Compete With a Crowded Backfield in Buffalo

The Bills used a third-round pick to grab Singletary, and he joins an already crowded backfield. What should we expect from in his rookie year?

Some people believe you can never have too much of a good thing, and the Buffalo Bills must feel that way about running backs. After adding Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon in free agency, Buffalo spent the 74th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on running back Devin Singletary.

A Rushing Monster

There are many things people can say -- and have been saying -- about Devin Singletary during the entire pre NFL Draft process. One thing that you cannot say is that he is unproductive. His 1,348 rushing yards in 2018 marked his third straight season with at least 1,000 yards rushing, giving him 4,287 yards for the Florida Atlantic Owls between 2016 and 2018.

No player in college football rushed for more yards than Singletary in that span. Indeed, no player in Florida Atlantic history amassed more yards on the ground than Singletary did, with Alfred Morris trailing in second place with 3,529 yards.

Singletary also scored 22 rushing touchdowns last season, an incredible number but one that actually represented a drop from his previous season. Singletary scored a phenomenal 32 times on the ground in 2017, giving him a grand total of 66 rushing touchdowns over the last three seasons. Singletary has the fourth-most rushing scores of any college player since 2000.

Player School Games Carries Rush Yards TDs TDs per Game
Keenan Reynolds Navy 49 977 4,559 88 1.80
Montee Ball Wisconsin 49 924 5,140 77 1.57
Kenneth Dixon LA Tech 47 802 4,483 72 1.53
Devin Singletary Florida Atlantic 38 714 4,287 66 1.74
Cedric Benson Texas 48 1,112 5,540 64 1.33

Singletary pretty much was the Florida Atlantic rushing attack, posting a 37.80% Dominator Rating, according to PlayerProfiler, good for a spot in the 86th percentile.

The Negatives

Despite that level of production on the ground, Singletary has many things not going in his favor, some of which the rushing production may not be able to paper over. His use to the Owls as a pass catcher decreased every year, culminating in his catching a mere 6 passes for 36 yards in 2018. A whopping 26 of his 51 career receptions came in his freshman season of 2017, and he owns an ugly mark of 6.3 yards per reception.

It should be noted, of course, that the Owls attempted an average of only 30.3 passes in 2018 as well as 25.8 in 2017. So it's hard to tell whether Singletary doesn't catch passes or he doesn't get a chance to catch them.

It's also difficult to overlook just how poorly Singletary performed in athletic testing. He posted a 4.66 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine, a deeply disappointing time given his size. Singletary weighed in at 203 pounds and measured just 5'7". Singletary showed a lack of agility too, with a 7.32 three-cone time that was exceeded by 16 other running backs.


This lack of wiggle makes his comparison to LeSean McCoy by Matt Miller a tad bewildering on paper. But Miller explains that Singletary "is more agile than fast" and "can juke and spin his way to freedom." Lance Zierlein thinks Singletary is comparable to another former Philadelphia Eagles running back, only this time his comp is Charlie Garner. For the record, Singletary was a lot more productive in his three years in college than McCoy was in his two seasons with the Pittsburgh Panthers, or Garner in his two years with Tennessee.

PLAYER Games Carries Yards TDs Catches Yards TDs
Devin Singletary 38 714 4287 66 51 397 1
LeSean McCoy 25 584 2816 35 65 549 1
Charlie Garner 22 313 2089 10 17 106 0

Miller believes that Singletary can contribute as a rookie. However, Greg Cosell believes that Singletary is "more of a complementary piece" to an NFL offense, and cites his lack of size and college workload as possible barriers to his success at the pro level. Singletary is one of only three running backs with at least 700 carries in college football over the last three seasons, and he trails only Benny Snell (737) and Myles Gaskin (718) with his 714 attempts. Miller put his pre-draft value as a third round selection, and he was proven exactly right.

The Situation in Buffalo

Given Gore's age, there is no guarantee that he makes it onto the 53-man roster to start the season, though he was solid last year with the Miami Dolphins. McCoy has the third-highest cap charge of any running back in the NFL in 2019, $6.425 million of which can be saved if the Bills release him prior to the campaign. Shady managed a career low 514 rushing yards last season at an anemic 3.2 yards per attempt as the Buffalo offense struggled as a whole. Still, McCoy is unlikely to be cut, but 2019 is the last year of his current contract.

As a rookie, Singletary will probably spend most of his time lurking in the shadows, waiting for a chance beyond McCoy and some combination of Yeldon and Gore. Singletary could get that chance as soon as 2020, making him a much better dynasty asset than a redraft one.