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Opinion: With or without DeAndre Hopkins, Bills’ offense better on paper in 2023

Let’s compare the team’s current roster versus the roster at this point in time last year, ahead of the 2022 NFL season

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The roller coaster offseason with DeAndre Hopkins and the Buffalo Bills continues.

With news of Hopkins’ release from the Arizona Cardinals, the fire was renewed again for Bills Mafia as they envisioned the All-Pro pass catcher lining up alongside Stefon Diggs to help springboard an already top passing offense to new heights.

But with Tim Graham of The Athletic reporting a source indicating it’s a “long shot” for Hopkins to end up joining the Bills, cold water has doused the fire for the second time since the 2023 league year began.

With the Hopkins possibility being a faint one, it might be good to take stock in the offensive position rooms as they stand right now versus how they stood in 2022.

We’ll take each position room and assign it a label of increased or decreased talent on paper versus the depth chart as it existed on 6/1/2022. No assumptions of 2023 development will be made. These labels will be “meaningful upgrade,” “somewhat of an upgrade,” “somewhat of a downgrade,” “meaningful downgrade,” and “push.”

Quarterback in 2023

  • Josh Allen
  • Kyle Allen
  • Matt Barkley

Quarterback in 2022

  • Josh Allen
  • Case Keenum
  • Matt Barkley

VERDICT: somewhat of a downgrade.

Case Keenum has proven more in the NFL than Kyle Allen. That’s it.

Running back in 2023

  • James Cook
  • Damien Harris
  • Latavius Murray
  • Nyheim Hines
  • Jordan Mims
  • Isaiah Bowser

Running back in 2022

  • Devin Singletary
  • James Cook
  • Duke Johnson
  • Zack Moss
  • Taiwan Jones
  • Raheem Blackshear

VERDICT: somewhat of an upgrade.

Singletary, Johnson and Moss < Harris, Murray and Hines. Taiwan Jones holds value as a great gunner on special teams and the hope is that role can be replaced adequately by Trent Sherfield in the wide receiver room, which is the only thing keeping this upgrade from being “meaningful” to me.

Wide receiver in 2023

  • Stefon Diggs
  • Gabe Davis
  • Deonte Harty
  • Trent Sherfield
  • Khalil Shakir
  • Justin Shorter
  • Isaiah Coulter
  • Dezmon Patmon
  • KeeSean Johnson
  • Tyrell Shavers
  • Marcell Ateman
  • Bryan Thompson
  • Jalen Wayne

Wide receiver in 2022

  • Stefon Diggs
  • Gabe Davis
  • Jamison Crowder
  • Jake Kumerow
  • Khalil Shakir
  • Isaiah McKenzie
  • Tanner Gentry
  • Isaiah Hodgins
  • Marquez Stevenson
  • Neil Pau’u
  • Malik Williams

VERDICT: push.

Jamison Crowder’s injury stopped him from being a meaningful player in the slot for the Bills, and Isaiah Hodgins being an playable and dependable receiver for the Giants after his release from the Bills buffs up the 2022 room in hindsight on paper. Too bad we can’t use that hindsight for this exercise for either Crowder or Hodgins, and in June of 2022 Hodgins was a day three prospect who had struggled to stay healthy to that point. Deonte Harty is a more refined receiver than McKenzie was and that’s a plus for 2023. As mentioned above, no assumption of improvement will be made in this exercise, so projecting a much more dynamic year from Khalil Shakir isn’t a thing. It’s essentially Harty, Shorter and Sherfield in versus McKenzie, Crowder, Hodgins and Kumerow out in terms of receivers you expect to make the team and have a role. That’s too close to call and we’re labeling it a “push” here.

Tight end in 2023

  • Dawson Knox
  • Dalton Kincaid
  • Quintin Morris
  • Zach Davidson
  • Joel Wilson

Tight end in 2022

  • Dawson Knox
  • O. J. Howard
  • Tommy Sweeney
  • Quintin Morris
  • Jalen Wydermyer

VERDICT: meaningful upgrade.

Dalton Kincaid was one of the best pass catchers, regardless of position, in this year’s NFL Draft. The upgrade over O. J. Howard and Quintin Morris as a potential weapon in the passing game is tremendous and enough that the Bills entire identity can shift in the passing game due to his presence.

Offensive line in 2023:

  • Dion Dawkins
  • Connor McGovern
  • Mitch Morse
  • Ryan Bates
  • Spencer Brown
  • Tommy Doyle
  • David Edwards
  • Greg Mancz
  • O’Cyrus Torrence
  • David Quessenberry
  • Ryan Van Demark
  • Nick Broeker
  • Ile Boettger
  • Brandon Shell
  • Richard Gouraige
  • Kevin Jarvis
  • Alec Anderson

Offensive line in 2022:

  • Dion Dawkins
  • Rodger Saffold
  • Mitch Morse
  • Ryan Bates
  • Spencer Brown
  • David Quessenberry
  • Ike Boettger
  • Greg Mancz
  • Cody Ford
  • Tommy Doyle
  • Luke Tenuta
  • Jacob Capra
  • Bobby Hart
  • Tanner Owen
  • Alec Anderson
  • Will Ulmer
  • Derek Kerstetter

VERDICT: meaningful upgrade.

The Bills’ tackles have remained almost identical, with only Brandon Shell a potential 53-man addition for 2023. But the interior of the offensive line was bolstered significantly by the additions of McGovern, Edwards, and Torrence, all of whom have been or project to be starting NFL guards. Having those three replacing Rodger Saffold and Cody Ford to be the starting left guard and backup interior linemen is a upgrade worth noting.

Overall, the Buffalo Bills’ offense has improved on paper at this juncture versus the same time in 2022. If DeAndre Hopkins doesn’t end up joining the team, that won’t stop being true. Obviously there’s an opportunity cost associated with how good the offense could have been, and unquestionably it would be better with Hopkins than without him — but one of the top offenses in the league in 2022 got better on paper as we head into 2023.

...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” every Thursday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!