Bills Coach Reveals Top Rookie Will Be Starting ‘Right Away’

Kaiir Elam

Getty Kaiir Elam #5 of the Florida Gators celebrates after breaking up a pass against the Virginia Cavaliers during the first half of the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 30, 2019.

The Buffalo Bills, already being favored to win the Super Bowl next season, has one of the strongest, most well-rounded teams in the NFL. Earning a spot on the active roster is no easy feat considering how much depth the Bills have at so many positions.

However, one rookie has already proved he’s starter material. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said during his press conference on Tuesday, June 7, that team’s first-round draft pick, Kaiir Elam, will likely be on the field when the Bills face the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1.

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Bills reporter Maddy Glab tweeted, “Frazier says out of the young players Kaiir Elam has stood out and they are expecting him to step up and play well right away.” The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia tweeted that Frazier’s comment about Elam starting was more of an urgent need, We need Kaiir (Elam) to step up and play well for us early.”

The urgency and need for Elam, 20, to be ready to go right away likely stems from the question mark that is Tre’Davious White’s return. Bills general manager Brandon Beane didn’t have much of an update on the team’s No. 1 cornerback, who’s still recovering from ACL surgery.

“When we show up for (training) camp, we’ll have a better idea of ‘is he days away or his he weeks away,'” Beane said, per Buscaglia on Tuesday.

The cornerback position was one of the team’s biggest gaping holes heading into the offseason. In addition to Elam and White, the team’s current depth chart at cornerback includes Siran Neal, Taron Johnson, Dance Jackson, Nick McCloud, Tim Harris, Cam Lewis, Christian Benford, Olaijah Griffin, Travon Fuller, and Ja’Marcus Ingram, per CBS Sports.

The Bills Traded Up to Snag Elam in the First Round

It’s only fitting that the player the Bills most wanted from the 2022 NFL Draft will immediately have an impact on the team. In order to snag the Gators’ alum at No. 23, Beane traded up, exchanging their No. 25 and 130th picks to the Baltimore Ravens.

After watching two of the top four cornerbacks get selected in the first four picks and the Kansas City Chiefs trading up to land corner Trunt McDufffie at No. 21, Beane knew he had to make a move for Elam.

“We had had good grade on Kaiir, and we were down to one player in the first round on our board, and so at that point, it just made sense,” Beane said. “We’re not sure what those teams ahead of us would have taken, but there was a lot of trade action going on too. It just felt like it was within striking distance.”

“Obviously, I’ve been hearing it loud and clear that we don’t have a corner from every single one of you,” Beane joked. “Neighbors, kids, everyone, so we’ll all sleep good tonight that we got a corner.”

Elam ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and throughout his tenure in Gainesville, recorded 78 total tackles, 26 pass breakups, and six interceptions.

Elam Cannot Wait to Start Working With White

After getting drafted, Elam said that one of the biggest draws to possibly joining the Bills was to learn and study with White, whom he got to speak with during his team visit.

“He just told me how much he watched my game and how he liked the way I played,” said Elam. “I just tried to pick his brain and tried to learn as much as I could from him in the short amount of time we had. I’m super happy I got to meet him because he seemed like a super laid-back guy, super knowledgeable, and a guy who I feel like I could just go and try to learn from.”

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