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Buffalo Bills 2022 camp battles: Starting cornerback

Only a few starting jobs are up from grabs. This is one of them.

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills allowed cornerback Levi Wallace to hit the free-agent market this offseason after four years as the team’s starting cornerback. During that time, the team consistently tried to replace the former undrafted free agent with a more athletic player, but they never invested heavily in the position.

This offseason, the Bills did exactly that, spending a late first-round pick on a cornerback for the first time since selecting Tre’Davious White in 2017. It’s a major influx of talent for a position where the Bills have merely skated by in the last several years.

Adding complexity to the conversation, White is coming off a midseason ACL tear and may not be ready for the start of the season.

We continue our look at the position battles of training camp with the CB2 spot—one of the few starting jobs up for grabs at St. John Fisher.

Kaiir Elam vs Dane Jackson

Dane Jackson ended the 2021 season as the starter after White’s injury. He was with the ones for six regular-season games plus the two playoff games. He acquitted himself nicely, and certainly has a spot on the roster as a fringe starter.

Elam was the team’s top draft pick in April. While they usually don’t like handing starting jobs to rookies, White’s injury is going to mean Elam is likely in the starting lineup from Day 1 of training camp.

Ultimately, Elam is going to be the starting cornerback for this team. He’s more athletic than Jackson and can make more plays. He’s shown an enthusiasm for the mental side of his game, which will bode well for him to get on the good side of defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier, and he played against high-level competition in the SEC at Florida.

Both Elam and Jackson will begin camp at starters spots. The silver lining of White’s delayed return is these two won’t have to split time like normal competitions. When the time eventually comes for White to be full-time, I don’t think Jackson will be able to wrestle a starting spot from Elam.

Prediction: They both begin the season in the starting lineup and Elam stays when White is fully healthy