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2023 Bills Rookie Report: Williams flashes athleticism in first game action

Week 1 of preseason action brought plenty of rookie narratives

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills are playing football games again. Of course, they don’t count for anything in the preseason but the team gave us an opportunity to evaluate options on the table in a game setting as the roster takes shape for 2023.

It’s a perfect opportunity for Bills fans to get eyes on the rookie draft picks on their television, and all six picks got their opportunity to play some snaps in the first preseason game — some garnering more than others.

No matter how much they played, we can begin to flesh out some narratives about this year’s rookie crop with the Bills showing their hand — that is, what they think of their newest assets.

Without further ado, let’s review the takeaways from each of the six draft picks from the first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.

TE Dalton Kincaid

The Bills have officially planted their flag, confident in their beliefs of Kincaid’s role with the offense ahead of Week 1 at the New York Jets. The rookie first-rounder played five total snaps on the afternoon, which is almost unheard of territory for a rookie drafted outside of the top 5-10 picks. Other players who played those snaps were Gabe Davis, James Cook, Deonte Harty, Trent Sherfield, and Dawson Knox. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs were the only Bills starters to not play in the game.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott hasn’t been shy about making rookies earning their place in the lineup over the years. This is one of the more resounding statements about a rookie McDermott has made in his tenure, and Kincaid is likely in line for a big-time rookie season.

IOL O’Cyrus Torrence

Torrence got the start at right guard and played the entire first half there before getting some rest. Torrence did about as well as you could hope for with an offensive lineman making their first career start. The Colts have some good talent on their defensive line, even digging into the depth. Torrence still has some balance and fleet-of-foot concerns as a pass protector, but you have to be pleased with the rookie who is completely dug in to the guard competition with Ryan Bates.

LB Dorian Williams

Williams was one of the standouts last weekend for the Bills. He flashed on a couple of instances for his ability to carry in coverage as an athlete and on another where he knifed through the offensive line and perfectly timed a tackle for loss in a goal line situation. Williams hasn’t been given an opportunity with the starters in camp and he was never in the battle for the MIKE linebacker position — not logging a single camp snap at the spot despite underwhelming options to be the day one starter.

After one week of preseason play, Williams is pushing through the negative narratives and attempting to force his way into real playing time in 2023.

WR Justin Shorter

It was a quiet day for the fifth-rounder out of Florida, but Shorter’s night was over after the first half of the game. He wasn’t targeted on offense, but Shorter not playing into the second half is a good indicator that he’s a good bet to make the roster at this point. Shorter is considered a potential plus special teams contributor in 2023 when he’s active on game days.

IOL Nick Broeker

It’s a long-shot chance for Broeker as a rostered player on the 53 in a couple of weeks. But Broeker has some ability because he’s an incredibly smart football player. Broeker lacks functional strength and natural athleticism, which severely limits his ability as a blocker in the NFL. But the seventh-round pick put a few positive reps on tape at left guard against the Colts. He’s a strong practice squad candidate if another team doesn’t claim him off waivers post-cutdown time.

CB Alex Austin

Another player on the outside looking in for a roster spot at this point is Austin — another seventh-round pick for the franchise in 2023. Austin was known as another smart football player in college, and one who played with a chip on his shoulder. The athletic limitations show themselves more with another step up in competition. He hasn’t made enough noise in camp or through one game of preseason to show he’s a player set to be rostered entering Week 1. Austin is another practice squad candidate.