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90 Buffalo Bills players in 90 days: WR Justin Shorter

The rookie has tremendous upside

Syndication: Gator Sports Matt Pendleton / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Buffalo Bills have an elite passing attack. That, of course, is buoyed by the fact that they have an elite quarterback in Josh Allen, but it’s not as if the receivers on the roster are slouches, either. Buffalo boasts a talented group that has plenty of variety among the ranks in terms of their strengths.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a need for improvement — after all, like the old saying goes, “if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” As the other 31 NFL teams adapt and add talent, so must the Bills if they hope to earn their first Lombardi Trophy.

In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one of the newest additions to the roster — a rookie wideout with an ironic name.

Name: Justin Shorter

Number: 18

Position: WR

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 223 pounds

Age: 23 (24 on 4/17/2024)

Experience/Draft: R; selected by Buffalo in the fifth round (No. 150 overall) of the 2023 NFL Draft

College: Florida

Acquired: Fifth-round draft choice

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Shorter enters the first year of his rookie contract, a four-year deal worth $4,163,948 in total. For the 2023 season, Shorter carries a cap hit of $830,987. Buffalo is on the hook for the entire guarantee on the contract, which amounts to $323,948, in the form of a dead-cap charge if they release him.

2022 Recap: Shorter excelled as a deep threat for the Gators in his redshirt senior season. While he caught just 29 passes in nine games, he gained a career-high 577 yards receiving, good for nearly 20 yards per catch. He also scored two touchdowns to bring his career total to eight in 43 college games. His production and his play last year were limited due to a hamstring injury that not only caused him to miss games, but it lingered with him throughout the remainder of the season even when he did return. Shorter secured an invite to the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, and he ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash, leapt 35.5” inches in the vertical jump, showcased a 10’6” broad jump, and put up 18 reps in the bench press. He tested right in the lower-middle of the pack in all of those metrics except for the bench press, where he was sixth among wideouts.

Positional outlook: Shorter is one of 13 receivers in camp vying for a roster spot this season. Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Deonte Harty, Khalil Shakir, Trent Sherfield, Isaiah Coulter, Jalen Wayne, Marcell Ateman, Bryan Thompson, Tyrell Shavers, Dezmon Patmon, and KeeSean Johnson are the others.

2023 Offseason: Shorter is healthy, and he participated in offseason workouts with the team.

2023 Season outlook: General manager Brandon Beane loves to keep his draft picks when they’re rookies, so in that regard, Shorter feels like a pretty safe bet to make the roster. His size and strengths on the field profile fairly closely to Gabe Davis, whom the Bills use mainly as a deep threat in their passing attack. Davis is in the last year of his contract, so perhaps the Bills use this season as a redshirt year for Shorter before giving him a chance to step into a larger role next season. However, Shorter lacks the resume from his college days that makes him a safe bet, especially for a team with championship aspirations.

If Buffalo keeps seven wideouts this year, then Shorter is all but a guarantee to make the squad, as I think it would take a disastrous preseason or an injury for him to fall to WR8. If they only keep six, though, like I expect that they will, then the battle for that last spot could be pretty fierce. I think the locks here are Diggs, Davis, Shakir, Harty, and Sherfield. For me, Shorter is six and someone like Dezmon Patmon is probably seven. If Shorter is slow to acclimate to the pro game, though, or he doesn’t do well on special teams, then Buffalo could look to someone else on the roster.

I do think that Shorter is the kind of guy who profiles well long-term in this offense, so I expect that he makes the roster as a rookie. Hopefully, though, he doesn’t have a large role this year.