Breaking down the Bills 2023 draft class
The Buffalo Bills 2023 NFL draft class is officially in session, kicking off their rookie minicamp this week.
What type of role could each player have, and when might they make an impact on the field?
The answers to those questions ultimately remain to be seen, but in the meantime here is a breakdown of each member of the draft class.
TE Dalton Kincaid
Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images
The Bills needed a playmaker on offense, a TE2 for two tight end sets with Dawson Knox, a receiving threat to keep teams from double teaming Stefon Diggs, and a threat in the slot to fill the void left by Cole Beasley.
They got just that in first round pick Dalton Kincaid.
Like Knox, he’s a modern NFL tight end who is a hybrid receiver as well. The rookie could make an immediate impact in the receiving game this season, and was considered by many analysts to be the top tight end in a historical draft class at his position.
He has elite hands, athleticism, and the ability to break tackles and extend plays. He has big 50-50 ball and yards-after-catch ability.
Instead of the base defense that 12 personnel 1 RB and 2 TE sets get, his skills will force opposing defenses to play 11 personnel set Nickel packages creating holes and opportunities for the Bills offense.
He was ranked No. 1 and 14th overall by ESPN earned the highest overall draft score (88) + the only TE in this year’s class to earn an “elite” production score (90) by Next Gen Stats in a historically strong TE class. He also put up 234 yards and a TD on only 16 catches in a single game against USC.
Offensive Lineman O'Cyrus Torrence
AP Photo/John Raoux
A player many NFL Draft analysts had projected to go to Buffalo in the first round still landed with the Bills.
They got just the guy forecasted to be their first round pick in the second round, adding top position group talent to one of the areas the Bills needed it most, the offensive line.
Torrence has experience at both guard positions, excels at run blocking, and allowed just two sacks in college.
He figures to find a long term fit with the team and potentially earn his way into on-field contribution in his first season which would be valuable considering protecting Josh Allen was GM Brandon Beane’s goal this offseason, and
LB Dorian Williams
Matt Milano had a stellar season for Buffalo in 2022.
Still, the star linebacker has historically lost time to injury in prior seasons, and adding depth and players that can contribute to the rotation at his position both better protects and insures his health longterm while providing the team with leverage in future contract negotiations.
Like linebacker Terrel Bernard before him, Williams brings a similar skillset to and models his game after the speedster Milano, creating a true rotation at the position.
WR Justin Shorter
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Shorter’s in a good position to develop with Buffalo, who lost prior developmental draftee Isaiah Hodgins to the Giants.
He joins a group that includes fellow new additions like first round pick and hybrid catching-tight end, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, as well as free agents Trent Sheffield and Deonte Harty, and un-drafted WR signings Jalen Wayne out of South Alabama and Tyrell Shavers from San Diego.
The Bills have added depth and talent to the receivers group and to their developmental pipeline at the position.
G Nick Broeker
Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports
Broeker looks like a developmental depth piece with starting potential in his trajectory considering his ability to play multiple positions.
Not bad for a seventh round selection. He’ll have competition in the O-Line mix of players.
Should his skills translate and he develop to his potential as a player at the pro level, he could also find a long term fit with the team.
CB Alex Austin
Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Considering the Bills have selected late round picks and signed un-drafted talent who’ve gone on to become starters and key contributors, late round picks carry value.
Buffalo used on on Austin, to add to their cornerback position group.
Another seventh round pick of the Bills in the 2020 Draft, CB Dane Jackson has become an important part of his position group in recent years for Buffalo. Time will tell whether history repeats itself, but this was a good late round pickup.