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Opining about the Buffalo Bills 2023 draft picks, Aaron Rodgers & an inspiring big-league promotion

Opining about the Buffalo Bills 2023 draft picks, Aaron Rodgers & an inspiring big-league promotion

I’m not about to go overboard the way Hall of Fame quarterback/NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner did and say the Buffalo Bills may have found the next Travis Kelce. Comparing first-round pick Dalton Kincaid to a guy who might be the greatest pass-catching tight end of all-time is the type of overreaction I hear all too often in the minutes, hours, and days following the NFL draft. I get it. We media folk must deliver instant takes in this impatient world, and the more audacious the take, the better. And I also get that this is the time of year when dandelions and hope spring eternal for fans.

That’s not to say I don’t like the pick. I do — a lot. Kincaid was a touchdown machine in college with 35 receptions for scores. He gives Josh Allen another weapon, perhaps the dependable slot receiver the Bills quarterback sorely missed last season. Though much bigger at 6-foot-4, 246 pounds, Kincaid has many of the football attributes that made Cole Beasley such an effective target from 2019-2021.

Like — dare I say Kelce? — Kincaid is a sure-handed, quick-footed, disciplined route-runner with an uncanny knack for getting open. He is a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. Pro Football Focus had the former Utah star rated as the 10th best prospect on the board. That the Bills were able to get him with the 25th pick makes it look as if Bills GM Brandon Beane got a steal.

I also really like Buffalo’s second-round pick, offensive guard O’Cyrus Torrence out of the University of Florida. Allen was sacked 33 times last season — his most sacks since 2019 — so investing in the offensive line continues to be of paramount importance. Torrence can help strengthen the interior of the line’s pass protection, but also open holes for what the Bills hope will be an improved running attack.

These two picks, along with the addition of brash fifth-round wide receiver Justin Shorter, also out of Florida, and Ole Miss guard Nick Broecker show a commitment to protecting Allen better and also lightening some of his load. “Josh can’t do it all and shouldn’t be trying to do it all” is a recurring theme both Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have been harping about publicly since the season ended with that listless, disappointing home playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals two months ago.

After devoting major draft picks to defense in recent years, Beane and McDermott reached the conclusion that the best way to beat elite teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs and Bengals is to out-score them. The addition of Kincaid to a receiving corps that includes Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Dawson Knox, and Khalil Shakir, and a backfield featuring complementary running backs Damien Harris, James Cook, Nyheim Hines, and Latavius Murray should make Allen feel like the proverbial kid in the candy store. So many sweet options to choose from.

In order to achieve their Super Bowl goal, the Bills would benefit from a bounce-back season from Davis and a sophomore leap year from Shakir, who looked good in the playoffs. Immediate contributions from Kincaid would take some of the double-team burden off Diggs, and open things up for him and others.

An already dynamic Bills offense has the potential to be even more explosive this season. Much will depend on the creativity of second-year offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who struggled with play-calling during the second half of the season, though part of that might have had something to do with Josh’s injured throwing elbow and the lack of receiving threats beyond Diggs.

The danger here is that Dorsey and McDermott become too cautious and rein in Allen too much. Yes, it’s essential to keep Josh healthy because he is the most indispensable Bill. But his legs and physicality are a big part of Buffalo’s offense. His 3,087 rushing yards and 38 rushing TDs have contributed greatly to the Bills scoring prowess. It’s going to be a fine line between keeping him in one piece without taking away the competitiveness that has made him one of the most difficult quarterbacks to defense.


New York Jets fans have every right to be excited about the acquisition of future, first-ballot Hall-of-Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He will make them better, and a legitimate contender for the AFC East title. But I wouldn’t get too carried away. Yes, Rodgers is a huge upgrade from what the Jets put behind center last season, and he is sure to be motivated to add to a legacy that includes four league MVP awards, but only one Super Bowl title.

Rodgers is coming off a subpar – for him – season and will be turning 40 in December. Was last year’s performance the result of a poor supporting cast or a sign that his skills are eroding? Just because Tom Brady was able to play at a high level till age 45 gives false hope that others can, too.

The other intriguing component is how the thin-skinned Rodgers will handle the cauldron that is the Big Apple media.

“The media here is kind of like ‘guilty until proven innocent,’ ’’ said New York Giants Hall of Famer/media personality Michael Strahan. “You have to make them like you.”


Kudos to former Rochester Red Wing Drew Maggi, who last week made his Major League Baseball debut after toiling in the minors for 13 seasons. The utility infielder, who spent the 2019 season in Rochester, was called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and received a standing ovation when he walked up to the plate for his first big-league at-bat on April 26. Maggi wound up striking out but had two hits and an RBI over the weekend.

Sunday, the 33-year-old was sent back down to the Altoona Curve, the Pirates Double-A affiliate in southern Pennsylvania. Hopefully, he’ll get another big-league promotion, but even if he never does, no one will ever be able to take away from last week’s experience. This profile in perseverance always will be able to say he was a major league ballplayer. That’s pretty cool.

Best-selling author and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.