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90 Buffalo Bills players in 90 days: TE Dalton Kincaid

The biggest addition to the offensive weaponry could signal a sea change for Buffalo’s offense

NFLPA Rookie Premiere Portrait Session Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills spent much of the 2022 NFL season trying to replace wide receiver Cole Beasley in the slot. The team used plenty of players in that role, but none of them lived up to Beasley’s ability — to the point that the team actually signed Beasley off his couch late in the season and started the veteran in their two playoff games.

Many fans and pundits assumed that the Bills wanted to draft a wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft. While the Bills did add a pass catcher, they didn’t pick a wideout early, instead adding a tight end in the first round for the first time in 40 years. That tight end they added isn’t a traditional, in-line player, but he instead has the potential to function more like a big slot receiver.

Are the Bills going to “86” the slot position this year? In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss the myriad ways one can answer that question.

Name: Dalton Kincaid

Number: 86

Position: TE

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 240 pounds

Age: 23 (24 on 10/18/2023)

Experience/Draft: R; selected by Buffalo in the first round (No. 25 overall) of the 2023 NFL Draft

College: Utah

Acquired: First-round draft choice

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Kincaid’s four-year rookie deal is worth a fully guaranteed $13,427,023 overall. For the 2023 season, Kincaid carries a salary cap hit of $2,441,277. As with all contracts for first-round draft choices, the Bills have the right to exercise a fifth-year option on the contract, as well.

2022 Recap: Kincaid dominated en route to First Team All-Pac 12 honors in his final collegiate season. He caught 70 passes for 890 yards and eight touchdowns. Those totals placed him fourth in his conference in total receptions, seventh in his conference in receiving yards, and third in his conference in receiving touchdowns. He played in all 12 of Utah’s regular-season games, as well. He skipped the Rose Bowl due to a chest injury. While Kincaid was invited to the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, he didn’t participate due to that chest injury. Similarly, he didn’t work out at Utah’s pro day due to a back injury. Lest we think him to be injury prone, Kincaid played in 55 games at the Division I level — 24 with San Diego before transferring to Utah — and he only missed time during the truncated 2020 season.

Positional outlook: Kincaid joins Dawson Knox, Quintin Morris, Joel Wilson, and Nick Guggemos on the roster at his position. Fullback Reggie Gilliam also has experience at tight end in the NFL.

2023 Offseason: Kincaid is healthy and he has participated in all offseason activities to date.

2023 Season outlook: The question isn’t whether Kincaid will be on the roster, but rather what kind of impact he’ll make as a rookie. Tight ends often struggle to acclimate to the NFL in their first season, so expecting him to arrive and immediately usurp Dawson Knox as the starter is unrealistic. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to assume that Kincaid ends up contributing quite a bit, especially out of the slot and in the red zone, as the Bills shift to a heavier dose of “12” personnel after a few years of operating almost exclusively with “11” personnel on offense.

Kincaid is a moveable piece and a phenomenal athlete whose strengths are decidedly different from Knox’s. Where Knox is best used in the flat to attack weak spots on the outside of zones, Kincaid is more a “Y” tight end — a player who can stretch the field vertically up the seam. That should open things up for Buffalo’s wideouts, and the heavier personnel groupings on offense for the Bills could even lead to some fun mismatches in both the run game and the passing game.

I’m envisioning all of the different things offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey can do if his personnel grouping involves Kincaid and Knox joined by wideout Stefon Diggs and running backs Damien Harris and James Cook. Who lines up in the slot? Who motions outside? Is it a tight set, or are the Bills going to play spread with that group? There are an awful lot of options, and the rookie tight end is the linchpin to most of them.

Kincaid is going to be a big part of what the Bills do, and his ridiculous athleticism is going to open up space for everyone else, as well.