Orchard Park, NY – Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane laughed as he walked into his press conference after the first round of the NFL Draft. He knew what everyone was thinking after he predicted last week that he would trade in the first round if he was a punter.
Instead, he traded – again.
Beane has traded four times in the first round of the draft in the six drafts he’s led since becoming Bills GM in 2018. The first two times were in his first draft when he replaced Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds. Beane stayed put and chose no. 9 for Ed Oliver in 2019, traded his first in 2020 for Stefon Diggs and selected Greg Rousseau at no. 30 in 2021. Last season, he traded two spots for Kaiir Elam, then again Thursday night for new Bills tight end Dalton Kincaid.
Beane was all smiles again Saturday night as he walked into the press conference room after a furious day that featured three trades to rack up the 2024 capital. He traded twice in the sixth round and received two picks from sixth round in 2024 in return. Now Beane has 10 picks for next year, including a compensatory pick the Bills are waiting for after free agency.
These extra picks will come in handy next year when Beane wants to come back up.
“It’s exciting. I love the choices,” he said. will help.”
The Bills leaned heavily on building their line and adding weapons for quarterback Josh Allen in this year’s draft. Beane was hoping to add a weapon or a piece to the offensive line, but he wasn’t going to hit any players. He followed his board and landed several weapons and blockers.
The best part of the draft is going through the course after the end to assess new additions and how it helps strengthen a team’s roster. Here, we’ll go over each choice, give some thoughts, grade the choice, and then provide a final rating and some endnotes.
Round 1 (Pick #25): Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Kincaid’s addition to the Bills’ offense is intriguing. There’s a long history of tight ends in the first round that aren’t worth the investments teams make in them, but it’s important to consider the situation the rookie comes into Buffalo. He’ll be the third or fourth option in a passing game that ranked 7th in the NFL last season.
The Bills scored 28.4 points per game (2nd behind the Chiefs), but something was missing. Beane thinks Kincaid is the missing piece. He’ll work mostly out of the lunge and his high-level road running and chasing catching ability. The only reason this pick doesn’t get an A is because Beane had to give up a fourth round. The Bills needed another weapon in the passing game and they got arguably the best in the draft – receivers included.
Round 2 (Pick No. 59): O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
That pick would have been in the A line had it happened in the first round, so Beane landing arguably the second-best interior offensive lineman in the draft with the fifth-last pick in the second round was a home run. Torrence is a strong mauler type who can handle some of the biggest defensive tackles in the league. The Bills have tried to prioritize athleticism with offensive linemen in recent seasons, but Torrence is something of a throwback. He’ll have to earn the job but I think he’ll eventually start at one of the guard posts next to Morse.
Round 3 (Pick #91): Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane
I hate typing that note because Williams had impressive production in his senior college season and has obvious charisma and he brought it all to his press conference on Saturday. He’s confident and has the versatility to maybe end up in one of the Bills linebacker roles down the line. But that’s the catch with this move. Williams will likely struggle to catch up with Terrel Bernard, who was drafted in the third round last year and looked lost in his only NFL start.
Beane said Williams played in the simpler defensive scheme at Tulane and now has to upload a more complicated system to the pros. He can fly and wants to play side-by-side in the NFL. Beane thinks his form is on the outside (behind Matt Milano) but could factor things in at center linebacker. The player has a good chance of becoming a big play, but it’s hard to see him playing a big role in 2023.
Round 5 (Pick #150): Justin Shorter, WR, Florida
Shorter has Gabe Davis vibes without the high level of college production. The Gators wide receiver suffered injuries during his stints at Penn State and Florida. He’s a former 5-star recruit who just hasn’t produced to the level expected. But it could be to the Bills’ advantage.
Shorter is an elite athlete who can win on the court. He has a chip on his shoulder and said he plans to “rip this league apart” when he gets the chance to play. The Bills plan to use Shorter as a special teams player in four phases and develop him as a wide receiver.
Round 7 (Pick #230): Nick Broeker, OL, Ole Miss
Broeker is an experienced lineman who has played both tackle and guard. He said the Bills are excited about the potential for him to play in five different positions. Beane said he had no plans to take a second offensive lineman, especially an inside lineman — Broeker played mostly guard — but he was the best player on the roster there. The Bills needed to find another wave of competition on their line and they pulled off that double inside with Torrence and Broeker.
Round 7 (Pick #252): Alex Austin, CB, Oregon State
I’m not sure the Bills need another cornerback, but Austin is a suitable program. He played in the zone in college and Buffalo is used to finding talented defensive backs on day three of the draft. Beane said the decision to pick Austin comes down to at least two players and the deciding factor is who has the best path to impact the team. Austin is probably a priority practice squad development piece.
FINAL GRADE: B+
The Bills accomplished what they needed to do by finding Allen a difference-making skill position player and a massive blocker. The rest depends on how you view the roster and what is needed to win in 2023. I think Buffalo’s priority had to be improving their offense.
After finding two new receivers and flushing out Isaiah McKenzie and Jake Kumerow, who just didn’t do enough last season, the Bills look set to inject some production into their passing game with Kincaid now also in the mix. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has a ton of options – especially in the running game with the complementary skills of Damien Harris, James Cook and Nyheim Hines.
Beane hit on a defensive tackle in the draft despite intending to land one. He said he didn’t want to hit a player and instead opted to follow his board. Now he’s going to look to the free agent pool and try to add to it.
“Maybe we’ll see if there’s a veteran there,” he said. “We spoke to a few people before the draft and we just had to wait and see, but you know, we’ll see this coming week. I think we will have the chance to add at least one veteran.
Beane set up the linebacker room at his press conference and said Tyrel Dodson, Terrel Bernard and Baylon Spector would compete to be Bills Mike’s new linebacker. Williams could come into the mix, but he has some work to do to figure out the team’s defense. Beane called Dodson “the clubhouse leader” to win the job.
The Bills have improved in this year’s draft, but those players need to reward Beane by finding a path to the field and production in their rookie seasons.
Tickets are exchanged twice in 6th, acquire a pair of 2024 6th, select OL Nick Broeker in 7th
Who is Justin Shorter? Buffalo Bills add former No. 1 WR to 2018 recruiting class (4 things to know)
Inside the Bills’ rigorous scouting work that led them to new offensive guard O’Cyrus Torrence
Bills get solid marks for ‘run-and-chase’ LB Dorian Williams addition (media notes)
Buffalo Bills receive back-to-back A’s for adding top pure ‘class’ guard prospect ‘O’Cyrus Torrence
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