The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is now in the books, and it was wild. The draft featured numerous trades, not just draft picks, but two veteran receivers in Marquise Brown, and A.J. Brown being dealt as well. The Buffalo Bills got in on the action when they traded the 25th and 130th overall picks to the Baltimore Ravens to move up two spots to the 23rd overall pick. The Bills used that pick to address the biggest need on their already stacked roster. They selected Florida Gators cornerback, Kaiir Elam.
Elam By the Numbers
Elam was a late riser in mock drafts the past few weeks. His name slipped into that group of top-tier cornerbacks in this year’s draft class. He brings nice size to the Bills’ D-back room. Standing at 6’1 ½” 191lbs, with 30 7/8” arms and 8 7/8” hands. He also brings speed and athleticism, having ran a 4.39 40-yard dash, which definitely helped his stock. Elam played 3 seasons of college ball for the Gators, totaling 79 tackles, 26 passes defended, and 6 interceptions. His best season came in 2020 when he earned first-team All-SEC honors and started in all 12 games that year. At only 20 years old, (turning 21 on May 5th), Elam is another very young first-round pick of General Manager Brandon Beane with lots of potential. “We think he has a high ceiling,” the Bills’ general manager said in a press conference following the pick.
Kaiir Elam is the son of Abram Elam. Abram played at Notre Dame, Kent State, and then went on to play for seven years in the NFL. His Uncle Matt Elam was also an NFL safety. Matt was selected by the Ravens in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. One thing that the Bills loved about him was that he played in the SEC. Which is the closest level of talent and competition to the NFL in all of College Football. Elam played against high levels of talent and highly touted wide receiver prospects like Jameson Williams. According to Pro Football Focus’ metrics, since 2019 (Elam’s first season), he has only allowed a 55.6 passer rating in coverage which is good for the 3rd best among all SEC cornerbacks in that time.
Looking At the Trade Up
The Buffalo Bills only moved up two spots from their original selection and gave up a fourth-rounder. It didn’t seem necessary as they only jumped in front of the Cowboys who were not believed to be targeting a cornerback. Although, the Chiefs traded up with the Patriots, jumping the Bills to land Trent McDuffie. That made Brandon Beane uneasy as he believed a run on cornerbacks would ensue, so he went up and got his guy. Beane also made note that they had a big grade on Elam. In fact, he was the only player left on their board with a round-one grade. There was no telling if the Bills would get jumped again. As someone could have easily traded with the Ravens or Cowboys to get in front of the Bills and take Elam. Beane said that he has heard Bills’ Mafia calling for a cornerback, as well as from his neighbors and kids, so, “we’ll all sleep well tonight knowing we added a corner.”
How Does Elam Fit with the Bills
If All-Pro cornerback Tre ’Davious White is not ready to go from his ACL tear to start the season, Elam will likely slot right in as a starter to begin the season. If White is back though, Elam will have to beat out soon-to-be third-year man Dane Jackson. Jackson has played well when called upon in his first 2 years in Buffalo. Brandon Beane was very vocal about that saying, “Dane isn’t going to give that up easily.” Elam has the size that Bills’ Head Coach Sean McDermott covets and likes to get physical with receivers. He should slot in nicely with the Bills’ predominantly zone coverage scheme. It will also help to have two All-Pro safeties behind him in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. As well as a should be improved Bills’ pass rush this season with the huge signing of Von Miller. If all goes according to plan, the Buffalo Bills will have the high-ceiling Elam, paired up with one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Tre White, for at least the next 4 seasons. Bills fans should be excited about the possibilities of that duo.