The Buffalo Bills traded away their fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft in order to move up in the first round for cornerback Kaiir Elam. Luckily for general manager Brandon Beane, the player he wanted when his fourth-round selection spot came around was still available when he found a trade partner in the fifth round.
“When we got to our [original] pick [in the fourth round that we traded]—I always look [to] start kicking myself when I see who we could have got—[Shakir] is who we would have picked,” said Beane multiple times following the April NFL Draft.
Shakir was by himself on the board, Beane told One Bills Live on the Monday after the Draft. That’s why they moved up 20 spots for him, their biggest move of the weekend. It cost them a sixth-round selection. Beane had discussed a move up to the top of the fifth with the Chicago Bears earlier in the day. One of his former tight ends from the Carolina Panthers is in Chicago’s front office.
This offseason, the Bills lost slot receiver Cole Beasley but replaced him with Jamison Crowder on a one-year deal. That might mean Crowder is the 2022 slot receiver with Shakir set to take over in 2023, but the Bills also lost an outside receiver in Emmanuel Sanders without adding one. Perhaps then Shakir could actually be the 2022 version of Gabriel Davis as the first receiver off the bench, and Beane thinks he has the mental makeup and physical attributes to play multiple spots.
“In our system he fits the number 4 role as a guy that can play inside and play out,” said Beane after the NFL Draft. “His number-one role if you were just going to put him into one spot, he would be more of an inside guy, but we think he’s got enough outside speed. He’s close to six foot [tall], 195 lbs maybe, so he’s not a smaller, thinner [receiver]. He plays heavy.”
Once training camp and the regular season roll around, it will be interesting to note where they deploy Shakir. For now, like most rookies, he’s just learning the ropes. The Bills have traditionally tried to limit the amount of information they give to rookies and have them focus on one thing at a time while they bring them up to speed, so it’s likely we only see him in the slot for a while.