Why the Buffalo Bills traded up to secure former Utes tight end Dalton Kincaid
Salt Lake City, UT (April 28, 2023) — In the weeks leading up the 2023 NFL draft, former Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid was most linked in mock drafts to two teams, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys, for a first-round selection.A third, the Green Bay Packers, were rumored to be interested late and had a higher pick than either the Chargers or Cowboys. But when the Packers opted for a defensive end with the 13th pick, Kincaid seemed destined to either of the two remaining teams.
The Chargers, however, decided upon a wide receiver with the 21st pick. And as the teams that followed suit made their selections — each with needs outside of the tight end position — Kincaid’s future with the Cowboys seemed all but certain.
Except, the Buffalo Bills suddenly jumped into the picture and traded Jacksonville for the 25th pick — one spot higher than the Cowboys. In return, the Bills sent Jackonsville the Nos. 27 and 130 picks.
It didn’t take long before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Kincaid had just been selected by the Bills, stealing what was expected to be the Cowboys’ tight end replacement after former Bingham High standout Dalton Schultz moved on to the Houston Texans in the offseason.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane told media they “really liked (Kincaid) and just felt he would be a great fit in our offense.” But he had a “good feeling that Dallas would take him” and they’d be forced to settle with a wide receiver or some other player, of which they didn’t have first-round grades on.
If they couldn’t get Kincaid, they’d likely just trade down significantly in the draft to get more value out of their pick.
“If you asked me five picks before we picked, I still would have told you we were gonna trade down,” he said. “I thought he was gonna get taken, but we were — I called the Giants and they talked about it and then they let me know they were going to trade up. So as soon as I heard that, I called Jacksonville; and right away they weren’t sure. They waited till they got on the clock, talked it through and got it done.
“Us trading up tells you how we valued him, without me being specific. There’s defensive players around, but he was the best player on our board by our opinion. … I didn’t want to have to give up a pick, but I would have been more disappointed with him that close to not be able to get him.”
The Bills got their man.
But the Bills already had a proven tight end in Dawson Knox, who signed a four-year, $52-million contract in September to keep him in Buffalo. The decision to draft Kincaid, Beane said, was more about him being a different type of tight end and one that isn’t necessarily competing for the same spot with Knox.
Much like Kincaid’s role at Utah, where he was utilized more as a receiving tight end in 12 personnel, the Bills have a similar vision for the Las Vegas native.
“He is a tight end, but he’s a receiving tight end,” Beane said. “We think he’ll pair well with Dawson and give us a another target in the middle of the field. So, yeah, when him and Dawson are in the game, you’re in 12, but it’s quasi — like 11 anyway. It’s not like — he’s not your standard Y tight end; he’s gonna be flexed out a lot more than necessarily you would do with Dawson.
“He pairs well in our offense; he’s something we don’t have. … When you’re in 12, if you’ve got two Y tight ends, you’re gonna get base defense. When he’s in the game, we’re gonna get nickel as if we’re in 11, so it’s just a different style of player.”
Kincaid wasn’t originally that high on the Bills’ draft board, Beane said, but after watching more film a couple weeks ago — most notably his performance against USC when he went 16-of-16 for 234 yards — the consensus was that the Utah tight end was the team’s intended target.
“It was one of the segments where we just went through all his targets, and we were like, ‘Are these the same play? Like it just kept going and going,” Beane said. “And you’re amazed at how many catches he had in one game. The defense didn’t adjust in that game to kind of slow him down. … He definitely elevated himself as the season went on.”
Kincaid said he had a formal interview with Bills personnel at the NFL Scouting Combine and had another Zoom interview on Monday — his last one before the draft. It was an opportunity for the Bills to give an “inside look” at the offense and the schemes they run, in addition to asking him what he’d do differently on certain routes or how he would approach different coverages.
His answers and what he did while at Utah was good enough for the Bills to give up a coveted pick, jump the Cowboys, and get the player they wanted most to help the team get better.