The Buffalo Bills have now had six practices to kick-start training camp as we quickly hurdle towards meaningful football games. One of the more intriguing storylines each year of camp is how newly drafted rookies look on the field against NFL veterans.
Four shells and shorts plus two padded practices in, we’re beginning to get a decent look at how the Bills’ rookies will contribute early on in their professional careers. Media members on scene have been working hard to report on the happenings at St. John Fisher University.
Let’s discuss how each rookie draft selection has performed through one week of their first NFL action.
TE Dalton Kincaid
Kincaid has been one of the biggest hits of training camp in 2023, turning heads early and often with his route running and fluidity as a receiving option. He’s been consistently running with the first-team unit and he’s shining bright as Josh Allen’s newest target.
The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia had glowing things to say about Kincaid after Day 4 of camp.
He has remained a consistently targeted asset by Allen and the first-team offense throughout, constantly making himself available and completing sizable gains during 11-on-11 work. Kincaid has an excellent feel for the soft spots against zone coverage and has also been a chore to deal with in one-on-one coverage.
It appears that Kincaid is going to be a huge part of the offense as a rookie tight end, which is by and large a rarity for the position in the NFL. Kincaid’s natural ability as a receiver to win in multiple ways has always been his most attractive aspect as a prospect. His fluidity, natural hands, and ability as a route runner continue to shine through one week of work.
OG O’Cyrus Torrence
Torrence has a clear position battle he’ll have to take on this year, competing for snaps at the right guard spot — a position he primarily manned during college and especially as a senior at Florida. The second-round pick is seemingly competing with Ryan Bates for the starting position and they’ve been splitting reps with the first team.
WGR 550’s Sal Capaccio had some first impressions of Torrence at camp.
From my perspective, he needs to fill his body out with more muscle mass to adequately face some of the defensive linemen he’ll be going against on a weekly basis.
This competition has the feeling that preseason games could matter a good deal for who will ultimately win out. There have only been two padded practices so let’s see if there are any new developments in the next week. At this point, the battle is still way too early to call.
LB Dorian Williams
Sometimes general managers and head coaches do tell the truth in their press conferences. In the case of third-rounder Dorian Williams, general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott had stated that Williams would likely, at least, begin his NFL career at the weakside linebacker position and not as a MIKE linebacker. That has proven true through one week of practices, as Williams is yet to see a rep at the middle linebacker spot. It’s a bit of a disappointing development not to have a top-100 selection even competing for starting time. But that’s where we are with Williams, who is almost surely going to be a backup this season.
Williams, much like Terrel Bernard in 2022, has very little chance to start in 2023 if he’s not going to be in the mix as the team’s starting MIKE. There’s absolutely zero question about who the WILL is with Matt Milano holding that spot down. Veteran Tyrel Dodson in addition to second-year players Bernard and Spector round out the current rotation in the mix to start alongside Milano in 2023.
WR Justin Shorter
There hasn’t been much buzz on the fifth-rounder thus far, but Shorter was recognized by some for a rep he had against potential starting corner Dane Jackson during Friday’s practice session.
Justin Shorter with a phenomenal catch during 1 on 1 period. Slid to make a grab near the pylon on a low throw from Matt Barkley. Dane Jackson in coverage. Shorter was pumped.— alex brasky (@alexbrasky) July 28, 2023
Shorter is a player likely to compete for special teams reps to earn potential active status on game days in 2023. He’s a physically imposing presence who pushed nearly 230 pounds during his playing days at Florida. There hasn’t been a whole lot to take away just yet, but we’ll see how he continues to progress.
IOL Nick Broeker
For as little buzz as there’s been for Shorter, there’s been even less for Broeker. Offensive line is a position that tends to naturally get less attention in training camp, and the live reps are far fewer than any other position due to positional depth. Broeker was a college left tackle who’s very likely making the transition to guard in the NFL. We’ll see if Broeker generates any buzz through camp or preseason, but he’s on the roster fringe and likely on the outside looking in as we begin the month of August.
CB Alex Austin
Quite often, seventh-round rookies don’t generate a whole lot of camp buzz. Austin fits into that category. As the battle for the second cornerback spot across from Tre’Davious White takes shape, Austin is a player looking to make the roster in a deep cornerback room. He may be on the outside looking in at this time, as he needs to unseat a veteran or two to clear that hurdle.