The Buffalo Bills went into the 2022 NFL Draft in dire need of a cornerback. By the end of the first round, general manager Brandon Beane had acquired one, trading up to do so. It’s just the second time that the Bills have drafted a corner in the top of the draft since Beane and head coach Sean McDermott arrived, with Tre’Davious White standing as the other.
While the starting gig won’t be handed to the rookie, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Buffalo’s first-round pick from 2022 isn’t starting multiple games this season. In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile the latest addition to Buffalo’s stellar defensive secondary.
Name: Kaiir Elam
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 191 lbs
Age: 21 (22 on 5/5/2023)
Experience/Draft: R; chosen in the first round (No. 23 overall) by Buffalo in the 2022 NFL Draft
Acquired: 2022 first-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Elam signed his rookie contract before rookie minicamp. It’s a fully guaranteed pact worth a total of $13,690,809. For the 2022 season, Elam’s cap hit is $2,489,238. As a first-round pick, the contract is a four-year deal that has a fifth-year option. Buffalo will have to decide whether to exercise that option in 2026.
2021 Recap: Elam played through a knee injury in 2021, suiting up for ten games as a junior for the Gators. He totaled 29 tackles, five pass breakups, and one interception, all numbers that were down from his sophomore year. He was beaten by quicker, twitchier receivers throughout last season, and he committed some interference penalties as a result. However, Elam was generally regarded as one of the best athletes in the draft at corner.
Positional outlook: Elam enters a direct competition with Dane Jackson at CB2, and he could be rotated in frequently early on in the season as Tre’Davious White works his way back from a torn ACL. With Taron Johnson, Siran Neal, and Cam Lewis working in the slot, that means Elam really only has Jackson to beat for consistent playing time. Other corners on the roster include Nick McCloud, Olaijah Griffin, Tim Harris, and fellow rookies Christian Benford and Trayvon Mullen.
2022 Offseason: Elam was hyped for Buffalo to draft him, imploring Beane to “put the playbook on the plane” that was flying him to Orchard Park. He participated in rookie minicamp earlier in May.
2022 Season outlook: I fully expect that Elam will start across from White by the end of the season. Whether he’s starting across from Jackson as White works back from injury or rotating in during the early portion of the year is yet to be determined. Elam gives the Bills two things that they don’t have in the secondary: He’s a tall corner who is lightning fast. That added element should make Buffalo’s defense even better in 2022.