A volatile first round of the 2022 NFL Draft has concluded. Many players saw their names called, many more have yet to be taken. The Buffalo Bills had one glaring need on their roster… consider it addressed. The Bills traded up to 23rd overall to select Florida CB Kaiir Elam. The former Gator joins a loaded defense, but who is he? Here’s everything you need to know about the trade, the pick, and the future of the franchise.
The Trade Up
Brandon Beane announced in his press conference immediately after the pick that Elam was the last player left on their board with a first-round grade. They traded up, not to leapfrog the Cowboys or Ravens, but to beat out any other would-be contenders for those same draft picks.
|Buffalo Bills Receive||Baltimore Ravens Receive|
|#23 (Kaiir Elam)||#25 (Tyler Linderbaum) + #130|
“I’ve been hearing it loud and clear, we don’t have a corner. [-] We’ll all sleep good tonight”– Brandon Beane on the selection of Kaiir Elam
It was a price worth paying to secure the last available talent they felt worthy of the first round pick. The organization lost two draft picks to practice squad poaching in 2021. With a roster this talented, we can’t keep everyone. Spending those later picks to ensure the selection of the guys you really want is a good investment.
What He Brings To The Buffalo Bills
So what does Kaiir Elam bring to the Buffalo Bills? For starters, he fills a massive need in this defense. The lack of speed in our secondary was notable, especially in the AFC’s divisional round, as an exhausted secondary was burned time and time again. Avoidable splash plays ultimately cost us the game, and a shot at a Super Bowl title. With Elam on board, we’re in a good place to prevent that from happening again. He ran a speedy 4.39 40-yard dash despite his lengthy 6’2” frame, and that elite combination is going to be important as we compete with a high-calibre AFC playoff field.
He has impeccable ball skills, targeting the ball in flight instead of the receiver. He’s a good wrap tackler, letting very few ball-carriers get past him, and plays his man close on every play. He excels in press-coverage, common in the Buffalo Bills’ zone scheme, and forces receivers off their routes with regularity. All of this, combined with his vision, makes for a player who should force a lot of incompletions and turnovers as a pro.
Kaiir Elam does bring a lot to the table, it’s true, and may have gone significantly earlier in a less-stacked CB class. However, he does have a few weaknesses. He can get handsy late in routes, which could lead to some pass interference penalties. It’s a coachable area, but one that may take some work. He also often fails to disengage quickly when sniffing out run plays, giving up extra yards before contact to shifty backs. Still, neither of these areas are too costly and both are teachable. Sean McDermott, Leslie Frazier, and John Butler will spend time with Elam to iron out those subtle kinks. Expect Elam to start across from Dane Jackson to start the season, and for him to fight to retain a starting spot for the remainder of 2022.
Elam seems to be fully healthy, if you listen to Buffalo Fanatics’ own Alex Lucci on the matter. Health in this secondary will be extremely important as he gets plenty of starting snaps. Tre’Davious White isn’t expected to rejoin to the lineup right away. Having a talented starter on board can only help this defense excel both prior to and following the return of our All-Pro CB.
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