It wasn’t a pretty sight for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday when the team matched up with the Patriots — a club that had been one of the worst in the league this season heading into Sunday with a porous offense. The Bills dropped the game despite a late push and eventual lead change for the offense that made it seem as if they’d escape a bad team for the second week in a row. But the defense couldn’t hold up on a two-minute drive and the Patriots eventually won with less than 10 seconds on the clock.
Buffalo’s rookies continue to get consistent run with this year’s team. There’s been some good and some less so for the 2023 draft class. Let’s discuss the rookie class and their various performances in Week 7’s loss to the Patriots.
TE Dalton Kincaid
It was easily first-round selection Kincaid’s best NFL performance to date hauling in eight receptions in as many targets for 75 yards. This performance occurred while still being handcuffed as a route runner. Kincaid showed off his ability to break down in short areas with tremendous burst and short-area explosiveness as well as finding necessary yardage after the reception to move the sticks.
Kincaid has good yards-after-catch ability in addition to already being a very complete tight end from an athleticism, route running, and hands standpoint. He’s proven to be reliable and that should only continue moving forward. He’s caught 25-of-27 targets thrown his way in 2023.
Tight end Dawson Knox is set to have wrist surgery. There’s no timetable for a return. Now, Kincaid is set to have a massive snap count increase and will likely be on the field nearly all of the offense’s reps moving forward. This is a huge opportunity for Kincaid to take a giant production leap with Knox’s absence creating more routes throughout each game for the rookie.
3rd down conversion for Dalton Kincaid pic.twitter.com/F5crqMAW4U— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) October 23, 2023
OG O’Cyrus Torrence
For as great as Kincaid’s week was, it’s fair to say that second-round draft selection O’Cyrus Torrence had his worst game of his young NFL career on Sunday. Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore dominated Torrence on a number of reps in pass protection. In fairness to Torrence, Barmore single-handedly wrecked each member of the Bills’ starting interior offensive line. Torrence was beaten with due to not running his feet, utilizing a wide base, and improper leverage multiple times. That led to clean losses off the snap of the ball.
If Torrence is going to be a plus starter in the NFL, he’ll need to maximize his grip strength and technique from a pass-protection standpoint. He’s limited as an athlete, so this will be crucial for him to improve upon now and in the future.
You can see a couple of Torrence’s bad one-on-one losses against Barmore in the clip below.
Been a while since the #Patriots had a DT who could dominate on any down, but Christian Barmore is proving to be that dude. He's NE's only IDL with 250+ snaps and has been by far their most disruptive player— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) October 23, 2023
Overpowered BUF's interior and smoked O'Cyrus Torrence on a couple reps pic.twitter.com/GXR3JcXfJw
LB Dorian Williams
Williams only played in 21 snaps on Sunday, as he was replaced once again by veteran linebacker Tyrel Dodson. Williams has been far from perfect so far since first garnering significant snaps on defense after the injury to All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano. Williams is a splash player who’s going through normal growing pains. Predictably, under head coach Sean McDermott, the leash wasn’t too long for Williams who was yanked in favor of Dodson in the second quarter.
Dodson himself struggled at points in the second half, which makes the pulling of Williams a bit puzzling. Dodson is a good run defender with limited coverage ability. The team has tinkered with some three-safety sets with safety Taylor Rapp getting eight snaps in a Dime package. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bills embrace more Dime in the future with Williams being a bit in the doghouse and Dodson struggling in his own right.
WR Justin Shorter
Shorter remains on Injured Reserve (IR), with eligibility to return at any time. The injury to Dawson Knox could be a potential door opened if Knox were to be placed on IR himself. It’s something to keep an eye on in the coming days. There has been no mention recently in regards to Shorter’s return.