The Buffalo Bills used their top draft pick to address their biggest need, a hole in the secondary left by an injury to their All-Pro cornerback. Through the first half of training camp, it may be one of the team’s lowest draft stepping in to help fill that void.
Sixth-round cornerback Christian Benford has earned praise for his play through the team’s initial round of practices, with one insider speculating that he could end up earning a significant role this season. Top overall draft pick Kaiir Elam had been slated in as a starting cornerback if Tre’Davious White is unable to return in time, but Benford may also be in the discussion after a strong showing against the team’s top playmakers on offense.
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Benford Holds His Own With Top Bills Receiver
As The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia noted, Benford has been one of the biggest surprises of Bills training camp as he went from the edges of the roster and potential practice squad candidate to earning opportunities with the first-team defense.
As Buscaglia noted, Benford more than held his own against Buffalo’s top receivers while playing alongside Elam.
“Once again on Tuesday, Benford was working in during team drills against Allen and receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis,” Buscaglia wrote. “Benford, first-round pick Kaiir Elam and Dane Jackson all took their turns working against the talented passing offense. Benford rewarded the Bills for those chances by staying in Diggs’ hip pocket on one route toward the back of the end zone and put himself in perfect position to break up a potential touchdown pass. Diggs got the better of Benford on some one-on-one drills, but Benford has definitely shown some natural ability.”
While Benford likely has a lot of work to do before he can enter the conversation for the starting job, he’s exceeded expectations and on track to get a bigger look in the preseason.
Bills Need Help in Secondary
The Bills will likely start the season with a hole in the secondary as White continues to rehab from a torn ACL. He suffered the injury in the team’s Thanksgiving night win over the New Orleans Saints last season and is expected to miss at least part of the season.
The Bills have offered a positive outlook for White, but steered away from giving any definitive prediction of when he could return.
“He’s on schedule,” said Bills head coach Sean McDermott. “He looks really good. He’s working his tail off. And Tre is a consummate pro. So that has not changed. We’re excited to get him back when we can get him back.”
While White is working his way back, Elam is expected to slide into the starting lineup. Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier predicted that the 20-year-old would be taking a big role right away.
“We need Kaiir to step up and play well for us early,” Frazier said via video conference.
The Bills have already invested a lot into Elam, trading up in the first round to take him with the No. 23 overall pick.