ORCHARD PARK — The Bills got their guy.
Late Thursday night, Buffalo traded with the Jacksonville Jaguars, sending pick No. 27 of the first round and No. 130 in the fourth round to the Jags for pick No. 25, leapfrogging the Dallas Cowboys to select Dalton Kincaid, a tight end out of the University of Utah. Dallas was another team reportedly in the market for a tight end and rumored to have interest in Kincaid.
“I’m just – I’m fired up. I feel like the coaching staff, the front office there is really good,” said Kincaid via Zoom shortly after being selected by the Bills. “They’ve got a great reputation, so I feel like it’s just a great situation to be in.”
Kincaid, 23, joins a high-powered passing attack led by quarterback Josh Allen, featuring wide receiver Stefon Diggs and fellow tight end Dawson Knox. Buffalo has been searching for Knox’s counterpart for the past few seasons, bringing in veterans Jacob Hollister and O.J. Howard in hopes of utilizing more two-tight-end sets. Now, with the addition of the last year’s John Mackey Award semifinalist, Buffalo believes it’s finally found the answer.
“If Dalton was not there, we would have traded back,” said Bills general manager Brandon Beane on the team’s thought process in trading up for Kincaid. “We had a good feeling that Dallas would take him, and we just really liked him and just felt he would be a great fit in our offense.”
Kincaid spent the first two seasons of his collegiate career at the University of San Diego before transferring to Utah, where he played in 55 career games, making 24 starts. In his final collegiate season, Kincaid played in 12 games with nine starts, leading the Utes in receptions (70), receiving yards (890) and touchdowns (8). His 890 receiving yards led all FBS tight ends during the 2022 season.
Kincaid is an elite pass-catching threat, possessing great size at 6-foot-3, 246 pounds and impressive football instincts. He earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors and third-team All-American status as a senior.
“I think it definitely increased your confidence. I feel it’s more experience more than anything that increases confidence, so just, you know, being out there and being in those situations definitely helps,” said Kincaid on his transcendent season in 2022. “Once you’re there, it slows down everything a little bit. So I think that has to do a lot with the success.”
Prior to the Bills’ selection, there was a run on wide receivers, a position many believed the Bills would be focused on at No. 27. Beane was asked if the fact that four consecutive wide receivers — Jackson Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison — were selected just a few picks ahead of Buffalo affected the team’s decision to move up to No. 25 and take Kincaid.
“Not really. It was more how we saw Dalton and that ... we knew it was going down to maybe there is a receiver there left, maybe he is there left,” said the Bills GM. “We weren’t sure.”
Beane mentioned Kincaid’s catching ability and his instincts as a route runner as traits the team coveted most during the scouting process, eventually leading to Buffalo trading up for the 23-year-old. Beane went as far as to compare Kincaid’s football IQ to that of former Bills slot receiver Cole Beasley.
“Elite hands. Really good route runner, good feel setting up guys inside,” Beane said. “This guy’s got great feel, great instinct. You guys saw it from a different position, Cole Beasley, great feel. This guy in a different body type does that.”
During his time at the podium, Beane recalled perhaps Kincaid’s most impressive performance of his collegiate career, a 16-reception, 234-yard performance against USC. The Bills GM said that, while watching Kincaid reel in catch after catch in that game, he and his scouts couldn’t help but come away impressed.
“It was one of the segments where we just went through all his targets. And we were like, are these the same play?” Beane said. “Like it just kept going and going, and you’re amazed at how many catches he had in one game.”
Almost immediately upon hearing his name called, Kincaid was already receiving text messages of encouragement from his new teammate.
“I think it just said ‘excited to get ya here and meet you tomorrow,’” said Kincaid on the content of Knox’s message.
“He’s in the same agency that I’m signed with,” Kincaid added. “He’s a great guy, so, very excited to meet him and just get to know him a lot better.”
The Bills’ new pass catcher believes his versatility and football IQ will allow him to step right in.
“I feel like I’m just kind of diverse in what I can do. I feel like you (can line) me up in the slot in-line, you can spread me out,” he said. “So I feel like that’s one of my strengths is having to do all that. And then, with that comes having to learn all that. So I like to pride myself on being smart. So I feel like that kind of ties in with what I do well on the field.”
Kincaid’s excitement to meet Bills Mafia was apparent during his time on Zoom.
“I feel like, coming from Utah, that fan base there is super, super good, and I’m excited to join another organization with a strong fan base,” Kincaid said. “And just like the success the Bills have had – Josh Allen’s a hell of a quarterback, and what he’s done has been pretty cool. And Dawson Knox is a great guy to learn from, and I feel like just being in the room with him is going to be a lot of fun.”
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