The Bills had three Day 3 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft: WR Justin Shorter (fifth-round), OL Nick Broeker (seventh-round) and CB Alex Austin (seventh-round).
All three met with the media after hearing their names called during draft weekend to talk about why they're excited be a Buffalo Bill.
WR Justin Shorter eager to soak up football knowledge from Bills vets
Growing up, Justin Shorter always wanted to play football. But his mom was hesitant to sign him up for the sport because she didn't want him to get hurt.
So baseball it was — but not without a lot of begging from Shorter every time football season rolled around. And even though he grew to be quite talented on the baseball diamond, Shorter's heart was still set on football.
"Batting first, going out there, getting on base, stealing bases," Shorter said. "And then in seventh grade, my parents for Christmas gifted me with some cleats and a speed ladder and a football. And I ended up putting those on and got to work. Then eighth grade started playing football and I've loved it since then."
And if it weren't for those game-changing Christmas gifts from his parents, he may not have discovered his talent on the football field.
"It was crazy," Shorter said. "I feel like draft day is just insane because you are sitting around, basically waiting the whole time. But I literally watched every single pick, so everyone who went before me, I feel like that was just fueling my fire. And finally, I put my phone down and got that phone call and I was just super excited. I started screaming, thanking God."
Bills GM Brandon Beane brought the 6-foot-4 receiver in for a top 30 visit, which was influential for both sides. During their time together, Shorter quickly picked up on how close the Bills organization is. And after Shorter shared his football journey story, it was evident to the general manager that "he loves ball."
"He wants to prove that he can play receiver first and foremost, but he also is excited to go talk to Matt Smiley, and what he's gonna do in the kicking game," Shorter said. "And you love that, a guy that you're giving a jersey to that's not just going to be a receiver. We think he's still an ascending guy who will have to prove it but gives us a size guy. Really like his DNA, he's a confident young man. And you like that, you don't want to draft a guy who doesn't believe in himself. So we look forward to getting him in here and into our DNA and our culture."
Shorter is eager to dive into that culture and the Bills star-studded offense, which features a wide receiver who was also drafted in the fifth round back in 2015.
"I feel like I want to just go in there and just go in there quiet and be a sponge and go to him (Stefon Diggs) and be like, 'Hey, whatever you know, just teach me,'" Shorter said. "Because he has been doing it for a long time and he has a lot of experience. So just being able to learn from guys like that in that room is definitely going to be a huge advantage for me."
The receiver will go from catching passes from Gators QB Anthony Richardson, who was drafted fourth overall by the Indianapolis Colts, to now coming out of the huddle with Bills QB Josh Allen.
"He's (Allen) a great quarterback, elusive, his arm strength is insane, his accuracy, everything," Shorter said. "I would say he is definitely that quarterback that I feel blessed to be able to work with. And hopefully, when I get up there, me and him we can start throwing and get that timing down, connection down because all I want to do now is just work. Get that playbook and let's get to it."
Broeker ready to 'put best foot forward'
New Bills guard Nick Broeker received the call of his dreams from Beane on Saturday night. That call officially made Broeker a Buffalo Bill and solidified the conversations that he had with the Bills organization throughout his pre-draft process.
"Throughout all the conversation, kind of as an outsider looking in before this, it's definitely something I really enjoyed and kind of felt like a good fit, really from everything," Broeker said. "Not just like the coaches, but kind of hearing about the players. I know Dawson Knox pretty well, so, that'll be cool to kind of get back with him as well."
Broeker played with Dawson Knox's late younger brother, Luke, at Ole Miss. So, whenever Dawson was cheering on the Rebels back in Oxford, MS, Broeker would often run into the Bills tight end around the football field.
After not missing a game in his four years as a Rebel, Broeker gained experience playing at multiple spots on Ole Miss's offensive line. He played left tackle and left guard, and he even center a bit throughout his career – which sparked conversation with the Bills general manager leading up to the draft.
"Yeah, definitely, talked about it a lot, especially with such a good o-line and being someone that can really play anywhere, just looking across all five," Broeker said.
Beane added: "He played some tackle, so I think we'll give him reps at both, probably. We always talk about is he's an outside first. I would say an inside to out, but we'll try him at both. If you said he's gotta play one, I would say guard."
And Broeker's mindset heading into his first NFL season is similar to many in his position.
"Right away, definitely trying to put my best foot forward," Broeker said. "I think for me looking to play kind of really anywhere, being able to show versatility and kind of playing wherever's needed."
CB Alex Austin already humble and hungry
When new Bills CB Alex Austin met with the media shortly after he was drafted by Buffalo on Saturday, he was already beaming with Buffalo energy. The cornerback already has the infamous motto, 'Stay humble and hungry,' engrained into his mindset after speaking to Coach McDermott on draft night.
"Just be ready to come in, stay humble and hungry," Austin said. "That's always been the person I am. I'm a very hungry and humble person, and ready to come in work … I'm ready to come in and work and be able to make plays for the defense and special teams wherever they need me and be a valuable piece on the team."
Fresh off the adrenaline rush of hearing his name called, Austin shared his excitement and eagerness to get to Buffalo and get to work in whatever capacity is asked of him.
"I've never been to New York, so this is gonna be my first time out there," Austin said. "I'm just ready to go out there and get to work. I'm coming from Cali to New York to bring a different type of swagger to that defense, and I'm ready to be there."
The Long Beach, California native is coming off his fourth season at Oregon State, the same college where Bills safety Jordan Poyer played from 2009-12. Now, Austin is looking forward to learning from a fellow Beaver as he prepares to take the field as a new member of the Bills secondary.
"Man, Jordan Poyer, he's a Beaver legend," Austin said. "I'm excited to be able to get up there and work with him, beside him, and be able to learn some things from him. I know he's been in the league for a very long time, and he's a veteran, so I look forward to just taking on the little-bro role and being ready to learn and soak up as much knowledge as I can from him."
When asked where Austin will fit into the Bills roster, Beane said that he'll be a cornerback. But the defensive back shared he's ready to play wherever he's needed.
"I'm a DB that can play outside, inside, or even at safety if they need me to," Austin said. "So, just ready to be, like I said, a valuable piece to this team and bringing my talents wherever they need me to play on the grass."
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