Cole Beasley’s arrival with the Buffalo Bills did not generate much in the way of headlines this offseason. However, as they enter the stretch run poised to end the regular season with double-digit wins, he stands as one of the shrewdest acquisitions of free agency.
John Brown and Robert Foster were regarded as more natural fits for a quarterback in Josh Allen with a well-earned reputation for slinging the ball deep with reckless abandon. Yet, as his Week 13 performance in the Thanksgiving win over the Dallas Cowboys showed, Beasley’s presence is proving arguably more valuable, as he allowed the second-year signal-caller to operate with a more measured approach while still picking up significant chunks of yardage.
Beasley had six catches for 110 yards against his former team last week, earning him a Pro Football Network Offensive Share Metric (OSM) grade of 46.66. OSM uses NFL’s Next Gen Stats and a series of algorithms to measure a player’s contribution to his team’s offensive display by looking at the factors only he could control.
A score of 40 or above indicates an elite level of performance, and Beasley ranked fourth among all wide receivers in Week 13. It was a richly deserved mark, as the Bills would likely not have been victorious in Dallas were it not for Beasley’s substantial contribution to two touchdown drives in an 11-point victory.
Beasley’s first significant play of the contest did not come on a drive that ended in points, but his 29-yard catch from Allen in the first quarter provided a glimpse of his expertise as a route-runner. The seven-year veteran’s first reception of the game got the Bills out of their endzone, with Beasley cleverly changing the depth of his route at the last moment to increase the yardage he picked up after the catch.
His ingenuity came to the forefront again as Beasley’s 25-yard touchdown catch from Allen saw the Bills score their first points. After dropping into the soft spot in the zone, Beasley demonstrated excellent anticipation of where the ball needed to go and altered his route to receive the pass almost in stride and take the deep safety entirely out of the play.
Despite his small 5’8″ and 174-pound frame, Beasley can effectively fight through contact and did so when matched up against Jourdan Lewis from the slot in the second quarter. Beasley demonstrated an understanding of the situation and the route depth he needed to utilize with the Bills requiring 20 yards for a first down. Had Allen’s pass been more accurate, Beasley would have moved the chains, but the 19 yards he gained put Buffalo in position to keep a drive that ended in a touchdown alive.
The Bills never relinquished the lead after Devin Singletary finished off that drive, and recent history says Beasley will be heavily featured as they aim to finish the regular season with a division title.
Beasley has 12 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games. The Bills’ gunslinger quarterback now has a reliable target over the middle to go with the deep threats he has on the boundary, and the low-key acquisition of a diminutive but experienced slot receiver may be the most important of the year for a team rising to prominence in the AFC.