Bills Predicted to Part Ways With 2023 Draft Pick Amid Injury Struggles

Justin Shorter

Getty Justin Shorter runs after making a catch in a Buffalo Bills preseason game.

The Buffalo Bills had high hopes for rookie Justin Shorter after a strong preseason in 2023, but a hamstring injury ultimately cut the rookie wide receiver’s season short before it began.

Now, Shorter could face a challenge just making the final roster this season.

Reporter Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News predicted that Shorter would not be among the six receivers the Bills keep on their final 53-man roster, squeezed out by the influx of veterans the team acquired to make up for the losses of Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis this offseason. Shorter turned in some impressive performances last preseason but suffered a hamstring injury and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Bills Could Look Elsewhere for Depth at Receiver

Skurski noted that the top of the wide receiver room is set in stone, with rookie Keon Coleman and third-year receiver Khalil Shakir at the top along with veteran acquisition Curtis Samuel. Former Kansas City Chiefs receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling “falls just short” of being a lock, Skurski wrote, but will almost assuredly have a spot on the final roster.

Veteran Chase Claypool has also looked impressive in early practices, which Skurski noted could put pressure on Shorter. He will have to beat out speedy practice squad receiver Andy Isabella or K.J. Hamler to earn a roster spot, Skurski wrote.

“Shorter, a fifth-round pick in 2023, missed all of last season on injured reserve,” he noted. “If the Bills want more depth at slot receiver, Isabella or Hamler would have a better chance.”

Skurski also predicted veteran Mack Hollins, who joined the team this offseason and has a strong track record in special teams play, would also earn a spot over Shorter.

Justin Shorter Impressed Bills Last Season

Shorter was once a highly touted wide receiver prospect, earning the No. 1 ranking as a high school prospect in 2018, but his career at Florida failed to match those expectations. Shorter made 95 receptions for 1,395 yards and eight touchdowns in three seasons at Florida and impressed the Bills in pre-draft interviews last offseason, joining the team as a fifth-round pick.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane told the Buffalo News that he believed Shorter could develop well under the team’s coaching staff and that his special teams play could earn him a spot right away.

“A lot of times that’s how guys, they get that jersey on game day and so they’ve got to know the offense or they got to know the defense and ultimately at some point they’re going to be in the game and Josh Allen is going to have to throw to him,” Beane said. “So a lot’s on him. We believe in him. You can see he’s a pretty good-looking dude. You like the build and so we just got to work with him. … We think there’s some good upside.”

Shorter remained confident in himself, telling reporters after the conclusion of last season that he’s ready to come back strong.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity, but I can’t wait to come back next year and grind,” he said, via The Citizen. “Just being in the building, watching everyone around me, I feel like that’s been critical in my development. I’ve seen everything, now it’s time to just put the pedal to the metal and just get it. I can’t wait, man. I’ve been training this whole time, just to show people all the work that I’ve put in.”

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