With the NFL Offseason well underway the Buffalo Bills have done significant work to overhaul their roster. The next step in that process is the Rookie Minicamp, where their drafted, undrafted, and invited rookies will take part in a three-day camp with the goal of impressing the Bills’ coaching staff and front office. As of now, 31 rookies are reported to take part in this camp with each hoping to earn a coveted spot on Buffalo’s 53-Man roster. Some will do just that, some will be relegated to the 16-Man Practice Squad, and others will attempt to continue their Football careers elsewhere.
Prior to the start of Rookie Minicamp, it’s worth looking at each of the position groups represented at Minicamp and the potential of the players involved.
Logan Bonner, Quinten Dormady
For the 3rd consecutive draft, the Bills did not draft a Quarterback. They also elected to forego signing a QB UDFA but did extend Rookie Minicamp invites to two, Logan Bonner and Quinten Dromady. Bonner represents the oldest player in the 2023 NFL Draft but will need to show drastic improvement from his college film to earn a role on the Bills. Dormady is coming off a controversial season with the XFL’s Orlando Guardians where he produced a Passer Rating of 95.7 while his team went just 1-6. Each would have to shatter expectations to make the Bills roster as Buffalo has their QB1 (Josh Allen) locked down through 2028, possesses an inevitable QB2 (Kyle Allen), and a Practice Squad QB (Matt Barkley) which has become a fixture of the franchise. The realistic expectation is that the 2 Quarterbacks will facilitate activity at camp with Bonner headed to the Calgary Stampeders shortly after Minicamp and Dormady back to the XFL.
Jordan Mims, Isaiah Bowser
Since 2017, the Bills have been in search of a Running Back able to consistently challenge the opposition between the Tackles. This offseason, they brought in Damien Harris and Latavius Murray to do that, with plans to look deeper at the role during Rookie Minicamp. This is the primary reason that the two Running Backs that will be there are a pair of north-south runners in Jordan Mims and Isaiah Bowser. Mims on a UDFA contract and Bowser on a Minicamp invite, each demonstrated an affinity for attacking in the interior in college. Mims saw a massive fall on draft boards after posting an abysmal 1.46 RAS while Bowser’s 8.87 RAS is negated by a less-than-ideal overall skillset. It’s likely that the Bills will try and sneak one of these guys onto their Practice Squad but if one is impressive enough during Rookie Minicamp, they could become a dark horse in a 3-way battle for the Bills RB2 role over the summer.
Justin Shorter, Braydon Johnson, Bryan Thompson, Jalen Wayne, Tyrell Shavers, Leroy Henley Jr.
The Bills have five Wide Receivers who are near guarantees to make the roster with a 6th spot open for a development prospect with Special Teams upside. The Bills drafted that exact player in the 5th Round of the NFL Draft when they selected Justin Shorter. Shorter is a big-bodied deep/endzone threat that also excels on Special Teams. For each of these reasons, it would be a significant surprise if he wasn’t on Buffalo’s roster come Week 1. Outside of Shorter there are 4 other rookies that will take their shot at a possible WR7 or Practice Squad role with the Bills. Braydon Johnson will try to impress as another deep threat, Bryan Thompson through raw untapped potential, Jalen Wayne as a versatile skill player, and Leroy Henley with his size and knack for finding the endzone. But it may just be Tyrell Shavers who surprises some people as an all-around competent receiver with excellent Special Teams’ abilities that make him capable of earning the 53rd spot on the Bills roster.
The Bills 1st Round Pick enters Rookie Minicamp as TE2 on paper but Dalton Kincaid is expected to be much more involved in the Bills’ offense. Kincaid’s versatility should allow him to play as an inline Tight End and even more often as the pseudo-Slot WR. As the only Tight End at Rookie Minicamp, it won’t be surprising if Kincaid sees most of his work with the Wide Receivers as he begins to learn the offense. In 2022 Buffalo’s TE2 (Quintin Morris) had a 25.9% snap share, expect that number to be significantly higher for Kincaid. If expectations meet reality a missing ingredient of the Bills offense in 2022 may just exist in 2023 via the addition of the Utah Ute Tight Tend.
Nick Broeker, O’Cyrus Torrence, Noah Henderson, Richard Gouraige, Eric Magwood, Josh Donovan
The Bills placed an emphasis on upgrading the Offensive Line this offseason. In literally the biggest addition thus far, the Bills drafted O’Cyrus Torrence in the 2nd Round of the NFL Draft. Torrence projects to be the Day 1 starter at RG as a massive human capable of walling off even the most imposing of Defensive Linemen. While there remains some concern over his foot quickness, there are reasons to be optimistic that he is a significant upgrade up front for the Bills. The other 5 rookies on the offensive line, including 7th Round Pick Nick Broeker, have an uphill battle to make the Bills roster. Broeker seems to have the easiest path to the job as a possible swing guard but don’t sleep on Richard Gouraige. Gouraige has outside/inside versatility and excels primarily as a pass protecter. We know at least 1 rookie OL will make the Top-53 roster, with at most 2 having a chance, the rest will be competing for a spot on the Bills Practice Squad.
DJ Dale, KD Hill, Malcolm Lee, Taron Vincent
Of all the position groups a UDFA has a chance to make the Bills roster, it’s Defensive Line. With no DTs under contract in 2024 the Bills will look to DJ Dale, KD Hill, and Taron Vincent to be impressive enough that they warrant a Top-53 role. Each brings with them concerns regarding their size, and whether that will be too large an issue to overcome in the NFL. Dale is the most impressive of the bunch as a player who flashed dominance at times with Alabama and may have enough juice to push Jordan Phillips or Tim Settle for a DT5 spot on the Bills. Malcolm Lee will also be an interesting prospect to monitor as he competes with A.J. Epenesa and/or Boogie Basham for a DE4/DE5 role. Lee has comparable dimensions to Greg Rousseau though is slightly smaller but more athletic. He’s an incredibly raw prospect but may be the biggest dark horse to keep an eye on once Rookie Minicamp gets underway.
Dorian Williams, DaShaun White, James Patterson
With Tremaine Edmunds now in Chicago, Buffalo is searching for his replacement at MLB. They already have 4 players on the roster expected to compete for the role but will look to rookies for further competition. The most likely competitor of that group is 3rd Round Pick, Dorian Williams, who surprised a lot of Bills fans as a prospect with a nearly identical athletic profile as Terrel Bernard. Still, Williams brings range and sure tackling abilities to the Bills that when coupled with his abnormally long arms provide him a puncher’s chance to start for the Bills in 2023. As for the two camp invites, DaShaun White projects more as a Will Linebacker, a position the Bills are flush with, while James Patterson is an instinctive, yet undersized, option at the Mike. Dorian Williams will make the Bills 53-Man roster while White or Patterson will have to beat out both A.J. Klein AND Baylon Spector to even have a chance of cracking the Bills’ Top-53.
LB Dorian Williams, Tulane (#2)
-Some snaps at Edge on passing downs
-Attacking style fits as an add on rusher or rusher from 2nd level
-Strafes efficiently with eyes on QB and threats coming through zone
-Gets depth in his Zone drops and plays with very good Zone… pic.twitter.com/KQ3xluQQdA
— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) April 29, 2023
Alex Austin, Antoine Brooks Jr., Javon Scruggs, Joe Foucha, Morgan Vest, Nate Meadors
Heading into the 2023 season the Bills DB room will be difficult to break into. Depending on how many DBs the Bills carry there will be one, maybe two, spots up for grabs. 6 rookies will look to stake their claim for one of those roles, headlined by Alex Austin. A projected early Day 3 pick, Austin fell to the late 7th Round as a player the Bills could look to groom as an Outside Corner, Slot Corner, or even Safety. Outside of Austin another intriguing prospect is Antoine Brooks who’s coming off a 44 Tackle, 1.5 Sack, 2 Forced Fumble season for the XFL’s Seattle Sea Dragons. Brooks will have his eyes on a reserve Nickel role while Scruggs, Foucha, Vest, and Meadors will all look to make a strong enough impression on the Bills coaching staff that they are recommended to teams across the NFL.
On April 21st the Bills inked Franchise Kicker, Tyler Bass, to a contract extension that keeps him in Buffalo through 2027. Like all roles in the NFL though, depth matters, and contingency plans are of the upmost importance in the event of injuries. One possible player that fits that plan is Sacramento State Kicker, Kyle Sentkowski. In 2021 and 2022 Sentkowski made 84.4% (38/54) of his Field Goal Attempts and 100% of his Extra Points (110/110). Not a bad player to keep in your pocket in the event of a break glass emergency and one that has an outside chance of making the Bills Practice Squad, despite the crunch they are expecting when deciding the 16 players to stash there.