Two weeks after the 2023 NFL Draft, Bills rookies, undrafted rookie free agents and more suited up for rookie minicamp. The guys will be at One Bills Drive throughout the weekend as they get comfortable with the coaching staff via meetings and practices.
Here are five things to know from Friday's open rookie minicamp practice.
1. The value of rookie minicamp
Six draft picks, seven undrafted free agents and several tryout players were a part of Friday afternoon's practice. When evaluating everyone on the field, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said it's tough to talk about the players as a group because everyone is at a different level due to when each player's season ended.
Beane explained what's important about minicamp is seeing how players adjust to a new setting and observing how they handle everything.
"The main thing is teach them some things and see what they can learn, process, all that stuff, especially some of the tryout guys we do have serious interest in," Beane explained. "I think last year we signed Ja'Marcus Ingram and Kingsley (Jonathan) from this camp, so we've signed some guys in the past. We're definitely evaluating some of these other guys and part of that is how are they mentally fitting, is this going to be a big adjustment or are they picking it up pretty quick?"
While the rookies are learning an NFL playbook for the first time and getting the lay of the land, the Bills also have several tryout players who have played in the NFL that are part of minicamp. One of those players is former first-round pick out of the 2015 NFL Draft defensive end Shane Ray. Beane said guys like Ray are invited to tryout because of the fact that some position groups still have some open spots.
"We didn't hit on any D-ends after the draft as far as guys to sign, and so that's why we were excited to get the kid Cameron Kline last week that we claimed from Indy," Beane explained. "We probably at some point may look to add a D-end between now and start of camp. And so instead of doing a workout, here's a guy out there, let's bring him in here for a couple of days, test his knowledge, test the skill set, see where he's at."
2. Torrence eager to showcase versatility on O-line
Bills second-round pick O'Cyrus Torrence took part in the first day of minicamp and had reps at both guard positions during the session. In college, Torrence mainly played RG so having some practice on the left side of the line was a relatively new feeling.
"We're just switching to left like a few plays, not too many, but throughout the whole time, I plan on working both sides," Torrence said after Friday's minicamp.
Because learning a new offense and new techniques can be an adjustment period, Torrence feels that the minicamp period will be beneficial for him in rotating between the different sides of the offensive line.
"I feel like this whole time is very important for me to get down the basics of the offense, so I can play as fast as I can when everybody else gets here," Torrence said.
Beane said one of the things that stood out about the lineman in the draft process was that Torrence had a high level of play at his first college program Louisiana Lafayette and continued that strong play when he transferred to an SEC power like Florida.
"Definitely watched his last season there and then see what the differences were. Honestly, his tape was pretty consistent at Louisiana Lafayette," Beane said. "You didn't see a drop in his level of play, even going to Florida. That's what gives you confidence."
3. Kincaid on his even-keeled personality
Buffalo's first-round TE Dalton Kincaid says he's someone who tries not to get too high or too low depending on his performance. So as he goes through the Bills' minicamp, he's looking at it as one big learning experience.
His even-keeled nature is something he picked up in high school at Faith Lutheran HS in Las Vegas.
"I kind of got it in high school. My receivers coach there, Coach Cody called it the 5-second rule. You can't really do anything about the past. You can be angry about it or happy about it for 5 seconds but at that point it doesn't really matter," Kincaid said.
Friday, Kincaid spent a portion of his first practice with Bills TE coach Rob Boras as the two worked through route techniques. Kincaid said Boras was involved in a lot of pre-draft Zoom calls and could tell early on the two would mesh well together.
"Every coach I've worked with is different in some way. I think I got a really good one here," Kincaid said.
Because it's only day one of Kincaid going through the Bills offseason program, Beane believes Friday's minicamp is a good first stepping stone for the rookie.
"It's the first time he's applying things he's been taught just in a couple of days here of what he's got to apply on the grass. So overall a good job," Beane said. "He'll be a sponge and it'll look easier and easier for him once he gets in with the vets starting next week."
4. Brandon Beane's thoughts on the 2023 schedule
The Bills will have at least six primetime games on their 2023 schedule and have four-straight 4:25 PM games, which means they'll have a national audience for a big chunk of their season. When checking out their schedule, Beane said he looks at the start of the season first and then how the division games are laid out.
"Week 1 is always who that is," Beane explained. "I look at when do we play our division teams. I did look to see when we played the Dolphins this year to see if we had to go in the scorching heat or not, and I was excited to see that was a little bit later in the year. And then the bye week."
The Bills have a Week 13 bye this season, which is much later than last year's Week 7 bye. The staff had the opportunity to take their bye week after the London game but chose not to.
"If the London game was midseason or later we probably would have taken it there," Beane said of the bye week. "But being week five, we decided, 'Hey, if you can give us a home game on one side of it, which we got home on both, we would rather do that and get that break later in the season. The last couple years we've had those Thanksgiving games, so we've tried to work out what we call that mini bye around that but this year getting the bye late, we liked that setup."
5. Why Poona Ford is a good addition to the defense
Buffalo signed defensive tackle Poona Ford to their roster a few days after the NFL Draft. The five-year veteran is a four-year starter who has played in 76 games and has 27 quarterback hits and seven and a half sacks.
Brandon Beane said Ford was someone they had been interested in during free agency and that talks ramped up after the draft.
"Once we didn't get one (defensive tackle) from the draft, we stayed connected and said, 'Alright, let's talk next week,'" Beane shared. "I know he had some interest and according to the agent, I believe he turned down a little bit more money to come here. So, (I) like that. Ultimately, he's a pro, he started a lot of games.
"He's a really good run player, I think he can help in the rush. At a minimum he's pushing that pocket to keep that quarterback from stepping up. He's not an elusive guy in there, but he's stout, plays good. He helps your whole group with the rush in there. He helps you get to third down by stopping that run."
Ford started in 16 games in 2022 and 17 games in 2021.
Scroll for the top photos from the first day of Bills rookie minicamp on May 12, 2023.