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Top 10 Buffalo Bills 25 and under — No. 6: CB Kaiir Elam

A first-round pick carrying lofty expectations

We’re counting down the best, most important, most impressive early career Buffalo Bills. These players are the closest thing to a “farm system” for an NFL team, and ideally they’re playing major roles in the team’s success. For every Von Miller the team’s signing in free agency, they’re only able to work that tactic by supporting him with a handful of younger, cost-controlled players.

Next on the list is the player the Bills drafted with their first-round pick this year. They’ll be counting on him to support their pass defense at the start of his career, before Tre’Davious White is back to 100%. In the long term, they hope he has the athleticism and skillset to be a starting cornerback for a long time in this league. It’s Kaiir Elam!

The list so far

Number 6: CB Kaiir Elam (Turned 21 on May 5)

We should be careful about placing high expectations on the shoulders of a rookie, but Elam’s going to deal with it no matter what. With Tre’Davious White rehabbing his torn ACL, it might just be Elam and Dane Jackson starting at cornerback against the Super Bowl champions in the season opener.

Elam comes to the Bills as a first-round pick with enticing size and athletic ability, and an appealing college resume. He was a Freshman All-SEC selection and was chosen to the All-SEC second team as a sophomore. The 6’2” 191-lb cornerback ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Coming to the Bills in OTAs and rookie minicamp, he played up to his expected talent level, and although training camp challenged him early and often, he played very competitively against the Colts starters in the first preseason game. Hopefully that success continues into his rookie season.

Elam slots into this place on the list because his perceived ceiling and importance is so much higher than the players below him. While he hasn’t played an NFL down yet, he’s expected to compete to be an opening-day starter at cornerback. He could theoretically become the team’s top corner years from now, if the Bills opt to move on from a Tre’Davious White in his 30s. This is a player who we expect to be competing for the top spot on this list in a couple years.