Updated September 15, 2023 - 3:44 pm
Michael Mayer won’t be the only rookie tight end on the football field Sunday inside Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium, where the Raiders play the Bills.
Dalton Kincaid is keeping him company.
“A good football player, and he’s an impactful guy. … You can see that right away,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels told reporters of Kincaid. “So, a very skilled player in the passing game, very tough. He’s a physical route runner. He’s aggressive at the top of his routes, does a good job of getting open and creating some space and separation for himself.”
A Faith Lutheran graduate, Las Vegas Valley native and the No. 25 overall pick in April’s NFL draft, Kincaid is among the pass catchers the Raiders are tasked with defending. The 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound former wide receiver debuted Monday against the New York Jets, catching four passes for 26 yards in Buffalo’s 22-16 overtime loss.
Needing a tight end, the Raiders evaluated Kincaid before the draft and thought highly of the former San Diego and Utah standout.
Said McDaniels: “Liked him a lot. Thought a lot of him … They’ve got a bunch of guys obviously that we’re going to have to keep track of here and try to slow down. … They don’t lack for offensive weapons.”
Among them is Kincaid, who joined the University of San Diego Toreros as a walk-on in 2018 — refining the receiving skills he flashed with the Crusaders in the lone year representing them on the gridiron.
A transition to tight end accompanied his transfer to Utah in 2020, but he retained his feel and fluidity while further fortifying his frame.
His combination of size, speed, productivity and physicality propelled him into the first round.
“He’s the guy that can make virtually impossible catches look routine because he’s just so gifted. Has such soft hands,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said earlier this year in an interview with the Review-Journal.
As a result, the Bills have plenty of ways to feature him in their passing offense. He lined up in-line Monday and in the slot, retaining his promise on the perimeter in mismatches against smaller cornerbacks and his aggressive approach after the catch.
“Whatever is asked of me, I’m going to go out there and do it to the best of my ability,” Kincaid told reporters during training camp. “Whether that’s blocking, running routes, doing stuff for the love of the game, it’s just whatever’s asked of me. I’m going to go out and do it.”