The Buffalo Bills wasted no time in scouring the undrafted free agents that missed out on hearing their names called this weekend. Filling depth needs, these players will not only help complete the 90-man roster but showcase their talents around the league during the preseason.
Buffalo’s active roster is littered with UDFA’s which means that these players below have a shot just as much as anyone else. Some of the players have injury concerns which is why they fell while others simply didn’t have enough perceived value.
Below are the undrafted free agents’ publicly reported injury histories and concerns.
Richard Gouraige, OT, Florida
Undisclosed injury, vs Kentucky, missed 1 game.
Gouraige’s injury forced him out of the following week against Vanderbilt, but no additional details were available.
Undisclosed injury, vs Missouri, missed 0 games.
Injured on the final drive of the first half, Gouraige had to leave the field via cart. It’s not clear whether he returned to the game, but he did appear in the following contest.
Knee injury, fall practice.
Right ankle, NFL Combine, sat out drills.
Initially described as a pain tolerance test, Gouraige dealt with swelling in his right ankle and had to withdraw from testing. Reports later clarified that he had a routine physical exam, making how the injury occurred unknown. Every injury is assessed no matter how old which means that one of the undisclosed injuries from 2021 was likely a right ankle injury.
Considering he plays right tackle, he possibly missed the Vanderbilt game in 2021 due to his right leg being on the outside when blocking. This would make it more difficult to kick slide and keep his block on the outside.
Noah Henderson, OL, East Carolina
Back injury, missed 1 game.
Henderson suffered a back injury sometime in late 2019 and he began to see starts down the stretch. He did miss the William & Mary contest, but it’s unclear if the back injury was the result.
Back injury, missed entire season.
The back injury that began in 2019 worsened to the point where his football career was in jeopardy. He missed the entire season as a result but it’s not clear whether he underwent surgery to address the issue. He was eventually cleared prior to the 2021 season.
Undisclosed issue, missed 2 games.
Henderson missed the Appalachian State and Navy game according to participation logs on the team website. No information can be found regarding why he did not suit up. He continued to receive treatment for his back during the 2022 season but did not miss any games.
Jalen Wayne, WR, South Alabama
Knee injury, side not specified, eighth grade.
During his first introduction to the sport, Wayne suffered a knee injury which had him transition to basketball for the next three years.
Jones fracture, side not specified, missed 3 games.
It’s not clear when he suffered the fracture other than during fall camp, but it’s possible he returned to play at closer to eight weeks rather than the more typical 10-week recovery. Fortunately, he did not appear to suffer any further issues such as a fracture or hardware removal.
Undisclosed injury, spring ball.
Wayne missed time during spring ball prior to the 2022 season due to an injury that did not have any additional details.
Tyrell Shavers, WR, San Diego State
Leg injury, side not specified.
Shavers appeared to suffer a leg injury during a late October game according to the tweet. While there isn’t any additional context, an injury is an injury when it comes to the injury analysis.
Toe injury, side not specified, missed spring workouts.
Shavers suffered a toe injury in a scrimmage during the springtime. Initially, it was thought to be turf toe but with imaging, the injury was more significant m, requiring surgery.
He possibly tore his planter plate which required repair prior to the football season.
Shavers later left Alabama for a brief four-game stint at Mississippi State before hitting the transfer portal. He ended up at San Diego State to finish out his remaining two seasons with no reported injuries.
DJ Dale, DL, Alabama
Left knee injury, preseason, missed 0 games.
Patellar strain, side not specified, missed 0 games.
According to head coach Nick Saban, Dale suffered a patellar tendon strain that forced him out of the Southern Miss game.
Ankle injury, side not specified.
He had to work through an ankle injury during the team’s bye week. He originally suffered it against Southern Miss that season but it did not appear to force him to miss any games. This was also the same game in that he suffered the patellar tendon strain mentioned above.
Knee injury, side not specified, missed 3 games.
Dale suffered another knee injury against Mississippi State missing the following two games. According to head coach Nick Saban, his knee did not respond well to treatment and he was forced to miss the bowl game as well. It’s not clear whether this was the same knee from the summer.
Knee injury, side not specified, missed 1 game.
Dale suffered a knee injury during pregame warmups, knocking him out of the contest against Arkansas. It’s worth highlighting that Saban notes that Dale has had two patellar surgeries and that the latest injury may have scared him. There are not any other sources indicating that surgery was ever performed.
Jordan Mims, RB, Fresno State
Ankle injury, missed 2 games
Mims suffered a foot/ankle injury at the end of the 2018 regular season that required surgery, ending his season.
Season-ending ankle surgery in August, missed the entire season.
Mims required a bone graft in his ankle as fall camp was beginning, knocking him out for the entire season. Bone grafting can be used for a multitude of reasons and Mims foot/ankle issue likely wasn’t healing, requiring the additional procedure to allow for proper healing. This article further details more specific reasons for foot and ankle bone grafts.
Braydon Johnson, WR, Oklahoma State University
Undisclosed injury, vs Missouri State, missed 13 games.
Johnson suffered an undisclosed injury against Missouri State that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. He described the injury as “something going on, just a little injury.” This injury also saw him have to use a non-contact jersey throughout the spring indicating that this was more than just a minor injury.
Concussion, vs Texas Tech, missed 3 total games.
Johnson suffered a head injury on the opening series against Texas Tech, being evaluated and staying on the sidelines for the remainder of the game. He was able to play the following week against TCU. However, he missed the following three games against Texas, Kansas State, and Kansas. It’s not clear whether he suffered another concussion or a different injury.
Bryan Thompson, WR, Arizona State
Undisclosed injury, missed Heart of Dallas Bowl vs West Virginia.
Thompson did not play against West Virginia in the bowl game during his true freshman season. Considering there was a month between their final game against Colorado and the bowl game, it’s possible that he suffered an injury while practicing.
Leg injury, side not specified, missed 10 total games.
Thompson suffered a leg injury according to the article at The Athletic, but it did not specify what exactly happened. He was able to play in four consecutive games starting with Oregon in November of that month, but could not finish the season. He ultimately redshirted, preserving his eligibility.
Knee injury, side not specified, vs Arizona, missed 2 games.
He missed the Colorado and Oregon games at the end of the season due to a knee injury.
Hamstring strain, side not specified, vs UNLV, missed 2 games.
He sustained a hamstring strain against UNLV that forced him to miss the following two games against BYU and Colorado according to game logs. Though he returned within a normal timeframe, he did not contribute on offense until playing against Stanford on October 8.
Undisclosed injury, vs Oklahoma State, missed 1 game.
Thompson did not dress for the contest against Eastern Michigan in Week 3 after playing the first two games of the year. There are no reports indicating that he suffered any specific injury the prior week against OSU.
Buffalo Bills Injury Outlook
Reading through the profiles, one can understand why these players went undrafted. Below are brief thoughts highlighting the various injuries.
Noah Henderson’s back is concerning as it has lingered for the last several years. This may be a chronic issue that he is managing for now but that could present itself later on if it flares up. His back situation appears similar to former Bills UDFA Trey Adams.
DJ Dale’s knee injuries are concerning as head coach Nick Saban mentioned that he had several patellar surgeries. While he does have a chance at the roster due to the depth this year, hopefully, he can stay healthy. His profile is similar to former Florida State DT Marvin Wilson.
While Jalen Wayne, Tyrell Shavers, and Jordan Mims’s surgeries were significant, they were several years ago and they have shown the ability to perform since then.
It remains to be seen how these players adapt to the next level, but they have already shown they belong.