2023 NFL Offseason: Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills (Last Year: 13-3)

2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Kyle Allen, RB Damien Harris, WR Trent Sherfield, WR Deonte Harty, OT Brandon Shell, G David Edwards, G Connor McGovern, DT Poona Ford, DE/OLB Leonard Floyd, CB Cameron Dantzler, S Taylor Rapp.
Draft Picks:
TE Dalton Kincaid, G O’Cyrus Torrence, LB Dorian Williams, WR Justin Shorter. Bills Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Case Keenum, RB Devin Singletary, WR Isaiah McKenzie, WR Jamison Crowder, G Rodger Saffold, G Greg Van Roten, LB Tremaine Edmunds.

2023 Buffalo Bills Offense:
To say that Buffalo’s performance in their playoff defeat was disappointing would be an understatement. The Bills averaged north of 27 points per game during the regular season, yet could muster only 10 points versus Cincinnati. It’s fair to assign blame to Josh Allen for this output even though Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. However, more fault should be attributed to the offensive line.

The Buffalo front office apparently agreed with this sentiment, as it spent multiple resources to upgrade the unit. The interior blocking was the problem, so the Bills signed two guards in free agency, acquiring David Edwards and Connor McGovern. Buffalo then used a second-round pick on O’Cyrus Torrence. The three new guards and Ryan Bates will have a competition to see who will be able to start surrounding center Mitch Morse, who is coming off a down year.

The Bills should have superior interior blocking this season, which means their only liability up front could be at right tackle. Spencer Brown, a third-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, performed well as a rookie, but struggled last year. Perhaps he’ll bounce back in his third season. Meanwhile, left tackle Dion Dawkins will continue to be the team’s best blocker.

In addition to finding better blocking for Allen, the front office also wanted to acquire another play-maker, particularly one who could thrive in the red zone. The Bills didn’t perform well deep in enemy territory, so this was a priority. That would explain the Bills using their first-round pick on athletic tight end Dalton Kincaid, who figures to line up in the slot in two-tight end formations with Dawson Knox. Of course, Stefon Diggs will continue to serve as one of the premier receivers in the NFL. The Bills were expected to find an upgrade across from him, but failed to do so. Gabriel Davis will get another chance, but he was a major disappointment this past season.

Another way the Bills can be more effective in the red zone is if they run the ball at a better rate. They will likely do so with Damien Harris, whom they signed over from New England. Harris isn’t a great runner by any means, but he has a nose for the end zone and will be more effective near the goal line than Devin Singletary was. Meanwhile, James Cook will handle some of the carries and most of the receiving work.

2023 Buffalo Bills Defense:
The Bills arguably had the best defense in the NFL during the first half of the year. They hadn’t allowed more than 21 points to anyone until Week 10, as they were able to generate lots of pressure on opposing passers. Then, everything changed on Thanksgiving because that’s when Von Miller tore his ACL. Ever since then, the Bills struggled to stop the opposition, surrendering 23 or more points in five of their final eight games.

There was no doubting the impact that Miller’s absence had on the defense. Without Miller, the Bills really struggled to get to the quarterback, so stopping even the likes of Skylar Thompson became a challenge. This does not bode well for 2023 because reports indicate that Miller may not be ready for the season opener. If Miller can’t go, the Bills will continue to have a subpar pass rush. The front office needed to add another edge rusher as insurance for Miller, but came up empty under obtaining Leonard Floyd during the summer. Gregory Rousseau can get to the quarterback – eight sacks in 2022 – but not at a tremendous rate. A.J. Epenesa (6.5 sacks), Shaq Lawson (3.5) and Boogie Basham (2) will all have to step up in Miller’s absence.

Buffalo at least has a solid interior duo in Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones. That said, neither player is spectacular and doesn’t offer the dynamic pass-rushing presence that Miller does. There was some chatter that the Bills would pursue a defensive tackle with their first-round pick, but they selected a tight end instead.

The Bills will need Miller back on the field to help a secondary that had some issues last year. Then again, having Tre’Davious White at full strength will be a boost. White missed the first half of 2022 with a knee injury. He played beginning in Week 12, but wasn’t quite himself. Now further removed from that malady, White should revert to the top-level cornerback he once was prior to getting hurt. Kaiir Elam, chosen in the opening round of the 2022 NFL Draft, should be able to start across from White. Elam wasn’t a very good performer last year, but he figures to improve with experience. Meanwhile, Taron Johnson should once again be effective in the slot.

White wasn’t the only injured defensive back last year, as Micah Hyde missed all but two games with a neck injury. Having Hyde back to pair with Jordan Poyer will really strengthen the secondary. It’s also helpful that the Bills signed Taylor Rapp as an insurance policy; Rapp is a talented young safety who should be a starter in the NFL.

Rounding out the defense, the linebacking corps lost a key player this offseason, as Tremaine Edmunds signed with the Bears. Matt Milano is still a great player in the unit, but he’s the only one. Milano doesn’t have the best injury history, so if he gets hurt, Buffalo’s linebacking group will be a disaster. The Bills will need to rely on the likes of Tyrel Dodson and A.J. Klein, which seems like a losing proposition.

2023 Buffalo Bills Schedule and Intangibles:
Tyler Bass has done a great job as Buffalo’s kicker the past three years. He was 28-of-32 in 2021 and then a nearly identical 27-of-31 in 2022. He was 2-of-3 from 50-plus last season.

Buffalo spent a sixth-round pick on Matt Ariza to be the team’s new punter, but Ariaza unjustly lost his job due to false accusations. Sam Martin became the punter instead, and he was 12th in net punting average.

Buffalo has a tough schedule overall because of the strength of the AFC East and some very difficult non-divisional foes like the Chiefs, Eagles, Bengals, Chargers, and Cowboys. However, the Bills also get to take on the Buccaneers, Redskins, and Raiders.

2023 Buffalo Bills Rookies:
Go here for the Bills Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2023 Buffalo Bills Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2023 Buffalo Bills Analysis: The Bills were the best team in the NFL last year before Von Miller tore his ACL. If Miller can return to the field at 100-percent capacity at some point in 2023, Buffalo will have a good chance to win the Super Bowl. Whether or not Miller will be able to do that after suffering the torn ACL last Thanksgiving remains to be seen. If he can’t, the defense is likely to disappoint again.

Projection: 13-4 (1st in AFC East)

2022 Projection: 14-3. 2022 Actual Result: 13-3.
2021 Projection: 14-3. 2021 Actual Result: 11-6.
2020 Projection: 11-5. 2020 Actual Result: 13-3.
2019 Projection: 9-7. 2019 Actual Result: 10-6.
2018 Projection: 3-13. 2018 Actual Result: 6-10.
2017 Projection: 5-11. 2017 Actual Result: 9-7.
2016 Projection: 8-8. 2016 Actual Result: 7-9.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B+ Grade

Goals Entering the 2023 NFL Draft: The Bills need to do two things in order to prevent another major letdown in the playoffs. The first is to add some firepower around Josh Allen to improve their red-zone offense. The second is to find some depth behind Von Miller because the pass rush fell apart once Miller got hurt last year. Otherwise, the Bills need to improve their interior offensive line and linebacking corps.

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I loved what Buffalo accomplished in the first two rounds of the draft. Dalton Kincaid is a very talented tight end who easily could have been chosen in the teens, yet he was available at No. 27. He’ll be a great weapon for Josh Allen. After that, the Bills used their second-round choice on O’Cyrus Torrence, who was a potential first-round prospect. Torrence will provide some much-needed protection for Allen.

The Bills had four other selections remaining in the 2023 NFL Draft. I was a fan of their seventh-round choices, but Dorian Williams and Justin Shorter, taken in the third and fifth rounds, respectively, were both reaches. I was also disappointed that the Bills didn’t address their pass rush.

Despite some mistakes, the Bills came away with a great haul. There’s little doubt that they strengthened their roster and gave themselves a better chance to win the Super Bowl this upcoming season.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

27. Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah – A+ Grade
The Bills had some major problems in the red zone last year. Dalton Kincaid will help solve those issues. With all of the first-round receivers off the board, moving up for a top tight end prospect makes a ton of sense, especially when it comes to jumping Dallas, which really needs to address the position. Kincaid could have gone much earlier than this, so I love this value.

59. O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida – A+ Grade
Wow, what value! Charlie Campbell slotted O’Cyrus Torrence to the Bills – in the first round! I had Torrence to the Chiefs a few picks later. Torrence is the No. 2 guard in the class after Peter Skoronski, so the Bills are getting an incredible bargain at the end of the second frame. Torrence will be essential for the Bills, who had to bolster their interior blocking.

91. Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane – D Grade
A linebacker was needed with Tremaine Edmunds gone. The thing is, the Bills could have drafted Dorian Williams later than this. Williams is a linebacker-safety tweener. He’s fast, but he needs to get much stronger to play significant defensive snaps.

150. Justin Shorter, WR, Florida – C Grade
Justin Shorter is a massive receiver (6-4, 229), but didn’t play to his size at Florida. He also dealt with some injuries. The Bills needed a receiver, but they could have gotten someone better than this.

230. Nick Broeker, G/OT, Ole Miss – A Grade
Nick Broeker is a versatile lineman who can play tackle and guard. He’ll be very useful as a backup because of his ability to play multiple positions. I thought he would have been chosen much earlier than this.

252. Alex Austin, CB, Oregon State – B+ Grade
Alex Austin is a good athlete with quality size. He has nice potential, so I like this pick. He’s a raw player, so he needs development, but you have to swing for the fences in the final round.

Season Summary:
The Bills were the favorites to win the Super Bowl for much of the year, but the season was derailed by the Damar Hamlin collapse. Buffalo was never the same after that, ultimately losing in a blowout to the Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Offseason Moves:
  • Bills sign DE/OLB Leonard Floyd
  • Bills sign OT Brandon Shell
  • Bills sign DT Poona Ford
  • Bills sign RB Latavius Murray
  • Bills sign S Taylor Rapp
  • Bills sign G David Edwards
  • Bills sign RB Damien Harris
  • Bills sign WR Trent Sherfield
  • Bills sign QB Kyle Allen
  • Bills sign WR Deonte Harty
  • Bills sign G Connor McGovern

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Guards: Bolstering Josh Allen’s pass protection is imperative. Rodger Saffold is an impending free agent, but he was a declining 35-year-old anyway. Meanwhile, Ryan Bates is as pedestrian as they come. Signed Connor McGovern and David Edwards

    2. Wide Receiver: Buffalo could stand to obtain a dynamic play-maker to join Stefon Diggs, as Gabriel Davis has been way too inconsistent. Signed Deonte Harty and Trent Sherfield

    3. Safety: Jordan Poyer is the Bills’ top free agent. There will be a big hole at safety if he leaves. Re-signed Jordan Poyer; signed Taylor Rapp

    4. Linebacker: At long last, Tremaine Edmunds lived up to his first-round billing. As it so happens, he’s an impending free agent.

    5. Running Back: Devin Singletary is about to hit free agency, but he was losing snaps to James Cook anyway. The Bills will need to find someone to complement Cook. Signed Damien Harris

    6. Cornerback Depth: Some better reserve players are needed at the position just in case there are plenty of injuries again next year.

    7. Backup Quarterback: Case Keenum is an impending free agent, so he’ll need to be re-signed or replaced. Signed Kyle Allen

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Taylor Rapp, S, Rams. Age: 25.
      Signed with Bills

      Taylor Rapp is a terrific safety, especially when it comes to stopping the run. It feels like he’s been in the NFL forever, so it’s surprising that he’s only 25.

    2. Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Rams. Age: 30.
      Signed with Bills

      Leonard Floyd has 10.5, 9.5 and nine sacks in the past three seasons. Floyd has been a solid pass rusher, but he turns 31 in September.

    3. Poona Ford, NT, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bills

      Poona Ford is coming off a down year, but was previously known as a stout run defender. Perhaps he’ll rebound in 2023.

    4. David Edwards, G, Rams. Age: 26.
      Signed with Bills (1 year)

      David Edwards was one of the linemen the Rams missed last year. He’s a talented guard, but has a sketchy concussion history.

    5. Connor McGovern, G, Cowboys. Age: 25.
      Signed with Bills

      Connor McGovern is a decent pass protector but struggles to open up running lanes.

    6. Damien Harris, RB, Patriots. Age: 26.
      Signed with Bills

      Damien Harris is a talented runner, but there are two issues with him. One is that he doesn’t offer much as a receiver out of the backfield. The other is that he’s had trouble staying healthy.

    7. Brandon Shell, OT, Dolphins. Age: 31.
      Signed with Bills

      Brandon Shell is a quality swing tackle who is better at run blocking than pass protection.

    8. Latavius Murray, RB, Broncos. Age: 33.
      Signed with Bills

      Latavius Murray performed better than expected in relief of Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, but he turned 33 this offseason, so he doesn’t have much time remaining in the NFL.

    9. Trent Sherfield, WR, Dolphins. Age: 27. — Signed with Bills
    10. Deonte Harty, WR, Saints. Age: 25. — Signed with Bills (2 years)
    11. Kyle Allen, QB, Texans. Age: 27. — Signed with Bills

    Buffalo Bills Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Jordan Poyer, S, Bills. Age: 32.
      Re-signed with Bills

      Jordan Poyer has been an excellent safety for years, and that was once again the case in 2022. However, Poyer is now 32, so he could be regressing soon.

    2. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Bills. Age: 25.
      Signed with Bears (4 years, $72 million; $50 million guaranteed)

      Heading into 2022, Tremaine Edmunds was seen as a first-round bust who never lived up to his great potential. Edmunds had a great year, especially in coverage. It remains to be seen if Edmunds can keep up this high level of play.

    3. David Quessenberry, OT, Bills. Age: 33.
      Re-signed with Bills (1 year)

      David Quessenberry is an elite run blocker, but tends to have problems with athletic edge rushers in pass protection.

    4. Devin Singletary, RB, Bills. Age: 25.
      Signed with Texans (1 year, $3.75 million)

      Devin Singletary is an underrated runner, but Buffalo’s coaches have never trusted him to handle the entire workload.

    5. Rodger Saffold, G, Bills. Age: 35.
      Rodger Saffold was once a terrific guard, but his level of play has declined in recent years. Now 35, Saffold could continue to worsen.

    6. Shaq Lawson, DE, Bills. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Bills

      Shaq Lawson is a solid, rotational pass rusher who accumulated 3.5 sacks last year.

    7. Case Keenum, QB, Bills. Age: 35.
      Signed with Texans (2 years)

      Case Keenum is five years removed from quarterbacking a team to the NFC Championship. He’s an elite backup and a fine spot starter.

    8. Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Bills. Age: 28. — Signed with Colts
    9. Jamison Crowder, WR, Bills. Age: 30. — Signed wiih Giants
    10. Jordan Phillips, DT, Bills. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Bills
    11. Greg Van Roten, G, Bills. Age: 33. — Signed with Raiders
    12. Dean Marlowe, S, Bills. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Bills
    13. Bobby Hart, OT, Bills. Age: 29.
    14. Jaquan Johnson, S, Bills. Age: 27.
    15. A.J. Klein, LB, Bills. Age: 32.
    16. Jake Kumerow, WR, Bills. Age: 31.
    17. Tommy Sweeney, TE, Bills. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants
    18. Taiwan Jones, RB, Bills. Age: 35.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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