7 takeaways from the Bills’ 2023 NFL draft
Here are seven takeaways from the Buffalo Bills’ work done at the 2023 NFL draft:
Gabe's last dance
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The clear-cut takeaway from the 2023 NFL draft: Gabe Davis is getting another chance at a No. 2 role in the Bills offense.
Davis struggled in that spot last season. He was inconsistent. Since then, the Bills had cited that Davis was playing through an ankle injury for parts of the season–But Buffalo still hosted plenty of receivers on pre-draft and even picked another in the fifth round, Justin Shorter.
Shorter isn’t going to push Davis in the short term, similar to the way Khalil Shakir, a fifth rounder at last year’s draft did not. So it’s still Davis’ spot. But Shorter still there for the future… and potentially to be a strong option in the red zone if Davis doesn’t get it done.
All said, Davis is entering the final year of his rookie contract and it’s time to show if he’s got it.
How valued was Edmunds?
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The Bills did not replace Tremaine Edmunds, who left Buffalo to sign with the Chicago Bears, in free agency. Then the Bills didn’t at the NFL draft, either.
Is it time to ask whether or not the front office values Edmunds’ old spot?
There’s going to be a competition to replace Edmunds, exclusively involving four players who all were Edmunds’ backups in 2023. The Bills only drafted Dorian Williams in 2023 and general manager Brandon Beane already said he won’t factor in that competition.
Of the bunch that, Terrel Bernard could be the most-likely option to win the job early on. He was a third-round pick in 2022 and was given a bit of a redshirt season as a rookie to grow his game (and potentially his size).
Behind Bernard, Tyrel Dodson, AJ Klein, and Baylon Spector will get looks. Bernard and Dodson are the top candidates as of now and walking into training camp with that… makes one think this front office believe it can get by without really replacing Edmunds. We’ll find out, for better or worse.
The O-line desire was real
The Bills really, really committed to improving their offensive line for the first time since the arrival of Beane and Sean McDermott in Buffalo.
Remember back when the GM and coach came to town in 2017? They touted over and over again that the five best players will start on the offensive line after adding multiple pieces there. That’s it.
After signing Connor McGovern and David Edwards during free agency, O’Cyrus Torrence was selected with a second-round pick. Nick Broeker might be a project piece, but he followed in the seventh round.
Get ready for the Bills to say, between incumbents such as Ryan Bates and all these new additions, the five best players will start on the O-line in 2023.
If that competition can bring out the best in the group, Buffalo should have a better offensive line next season (and hopefully the same happens at linebacker).
So was the two-tight end idea
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The Bills surprised many by taking tight end Dalton Kincaid with their first-round pick.
Actually, it wasn’t all that surprising. Buffalo did host many playmaking receivers on pre-draft visits, so there was a desire from the team to select a talent on offense.
Plus, the Bills signed OJ Howard last summer. He ended up not being a viable candidate as a No. 2 tight end as he was cut in training camp, but Buffalo wanted that 1-2 punch at the position a year ago. Now they’ve got it.
The work is not done
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The Bills need to sign a linebacker still, right? Well the options aren’t really out there. In fact, there aren’t many at most positions, but Beane did note after the conclusion of the draft that he’ll be adding to at least one position: Defensive tackle.
The Bills did not draft one and Beane expressed a desire for more depth there. Plus, Ed Oliver, Jordan Phillips, DaQuan Jones, and Tim Settle will all be free agents after next year.
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Not a peep.
Nothing from Dawson Knox, nor any offensive lineman or others on offense.
The Bills tout the character in their locker room. At times like this, you’ve got to respect how well they’ve done at finding character pieces.
Knox did not say a single negative word about his team taking a tight end in Round 1. He did the opposite. Nothing from other receivers either, and all these new offensive linemen? Haven’t heard a peep out of Bates being upset.
These guys are all welcoming the challenges. Not complaining.
Moves, moves, moves
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Not too scared to trade, is he?
Beane moved up once and down three times at the draft. That helped the Bills be major players in a historic NFL draft regarding trades.