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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Bills boost defensive backfield

With the 25th overall pick in the 2022 Bleeding Green Nation community mock draft, Buffalo Bills GM ItownBallers22 selects ...

Towson v Florida Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Rolling into my 5th year writing in the prestigious BGN Community Mock Draft, this is the first time having the pleasure of drafting for my hometown team, the Buffalo Bills. Technically, about an hour away, but everyone in my personal life is a Bills fan (besides yours truly of course). It is an odd era to be surrounded by Bills fans, who for the first time in my life actually have more confidence than I have had in the Eagles over the past 2 years…but I wouldn’t trade away the last 20+ years they have had to deal with for anything. But that brings us to this mock draft, and drafting for a team with very real championship aspirations (and a bad taste in their mouth) after last year’s playoffs is quite fun.

Let’s take quick stock of the Bills’ roster, shall we? They have a top-2 QB in the league (not arguably, don’t start in the comment section). They have a WR1 (making BANK), and some solid options behind him. A solid running game, at times, and a legit TE. Their OL is top-half of the league with no glaring holes and a team mentality (much like the Eagles) to grab their guys after the first round and develop them, which has worked pretty well the last few years. Their Defense is baseline top 5 in the League, with a great rotation on the DL, stout LB’s and a tremendous DB room (when healthy).

So, all of that is to reiterate my earlier point of no glaring holes. They are in the “plug in 1-2 guys this draft and develop the depth” point of their Madden Franchise. So if we were going to really dig into that mindset, it’s looking something like this for their first round pick – CB, LB, OL, RB.

CB: I mean, everyone saw the AFC Championship game right? Without Tre White, they had to rely on Levi Wallace to cover the other team’s superstar wideout…who now plays in their division. Wallace, although a great #2 for them the past few years, is gone. White is not expected back at full health until most likely October, and their depth chart starters includes the likes of Tarron Johnson at CB1 and Siran Neal at CB2 to start the year. Not great Bob!

LB: The Bills have had a LB duo that many Eagles fans would celebrate over in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. Considering the aspirations of Bills fans everywhere, Edmunds has drawn their ire over the past year as the 16th overall pick in 2018 has not been the game-breaker they expect him to be; he will have to show some of that hype to make it past the 5th year option he is on to a long-term deal. Milano, a 5th rounder in 2017, has continued to impress and signed a 4 year deal last offseason. They have the talent, but could consider hedging their bets with Edmunds. Also consider that they now have Von Miller, who will be more of an EDGE player in the scheme, but will help with some LB duties as well.

RB: A huge outcry all last year for their fans everywhere that Devin Singletary was washed (only 3 years into the NFL but whatever Bills fans) and Zach Moss was nowhere to be found, turned around once Singletary was able to work off of the Bills scheming Josh Allen runs and a dangerous rushing attack in the last quarter of the season. They can definitely upgrade here, especially with some of the intriguing options available, but this RB class resides better in the 2nd round and on.

OL: Always gotta beef that line up, especially with Allen’s mega deal coming down the pipe. Keep him upright and you’ll be fine for a long while. As mentioned before, the Bills have had some great success recently with Day 2 picks developing into legit starters so that pressure is not really there in the first round. They also signed Rodger Saffold from the Titans which was one of my more underrated signings this offseason to shore up the line.

Now that we have clearly defined the team and what look to be the needs going into this draft, let’s split between the top 2 needs – CB and LB. LB is tantalizing, especially because the way this mock draft maneuvered both Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean available they could work fantastic in the Bills’ defensive scheme and tip the Bills’ hand next offseason to let Edmunds walk without much drop-off. Though that would be nice, there are a ton of quality LB’s in Day 2 that they would have the time to develop as depth and eventual starters. CB is a much different reality, where the AFC East free agency period has become one of the main attractions this offseason.

The Jets improved their offense and Wilson can’t be as bad as last year (probably), the Patriots will continue to be the Galactic Empire until they prove they are not and the Dolphins decided to play the “Hold My Beer” card and BEEF up their offense at every level, headlined by the massive Tyreek Hill trade and extension. Remember that game last year where Hill (almost) single-handedly brought the Chiefs offense back against the Bills for 11 rec/150 yards and a 64 yard TD to the house in the last few minutes? Yeah, he’ll be playing the Bills twice a year now. Which honestly tipped the scales for me more than anything to select, with the 25th pick - Kaiir Elam, CB Florida.

AUTHORS NOTE: Sorry for the theatrics there everyone, I am sure I could’ve just jumped into the pick and you *poof* give me a grade. But I like to take my time with these write-ups because, if you’re spending the time to read them, might as well be entertaining!

I really do enjoy this CB class because I feel like these guys, outside of Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley Jr. (and recently McDuffie), have gotten pushed down the draft hype train. Although I was hoping McDuffie would make it to 25 as I think he would be perfect for the Bills, Kaiir Elam is a great consolation prize. Elam is a long, rangy corner with great speed and physicality. He has scheme flexibility, with the vision to play zone and the fluidity to play man, something the Bills take great pride in their defensive system. He likes to bully receivers when given the chance in run and pass coverage, and with his size and play-strength was very effective at it in the SEC. This Bills D reminds me of the glory days of Dawkins’ led defenses, with a gritty and hard-hitting approach, so every man on that field needs to show some backbone. Elam has that in spades, and has a number of vets in the locker room to teach him the nuances of a top-shelf NFL Defense.

Although not indicative of a successful player, my favorite things about Elam start with him athletic profile: 6’1 ½” with a 6’5” wingspan, 4.39 40-yard dash, and hops for days. He knows how to use his body in coverage, has the size to work against taller WR’s and the speed/athleticism to stick with smaller wideouts. He can effectively use his hands to reroute WR’s down the field, and some NFL coaching will help him to do it more effectively without drawing DPI/Holding calls at the next level.

Where he really shines is in coverage, which most would say is the top priority of any CB. He had an 89.8 coverage grade by PFF, second only to Gardner-Johnson from Florida defenders in the last 7 years. He uses his athletic traits well, flips his hips with fluidity, and rarely if ever gets caught looking. His wingspan gives him the edge of keeping his defender in arms-reach while tracking any balls thrown his way, shown in the below clip:

He is patient and has great play strength to mirror and impede releases, and he plays with his best awareness in zone. A great trait to come into the NFL with is that he has the twitch and length to make plays on the throw when squatting in space, and learning when is best to do so is something the Bills and Tre White can help him develop.

Now there are always going to be the negative aspects of his game, as with any draft prospect. There are times that his leverage gets lost unnecessarily, specifically if he gives too much cushion and separation in the early stages of a route. He is a willing tackler, though he showed some propensity to melt off tackles and had some inconsistencies when coming up-field for a tackle in space. There were a handful of times when matched up against a smaller/speedier wideout that he would get stacked vertically and break into the “grab, panic” moniker, ending in DPI’s. Most of these are coachable offenses, and something at the back end of the first round you are counting on your coaching staff to step up when all you should be concerned about in the draft war room is adding the most talented guy on the board to your roster.

I promise I am wrapping this up, but before you vote that this 100% should be the pick (and nab me the Eagle’s pick in next year’s mock), we will play a little game of “Player A vs Player B”:

Player A

College Career (4 years) – 167 Total Tackles, 11 TFL, 1.5 Sacks, 6 INT, 34 PD, 1 FR, 1 FF

  • Experienced island corner with slot reps over last two seasons
  • Quick twitch with exceptional footwork
  • Uses controlled hop-steps from press for extended face-up against receivers
  • Pattern reader will jump path of route and attack throw
  • Finesse cornerback with relatively slender frame
  • Physicality and play strength a concern from slot
  • Tackles when necessary, but doesn’t seek out contact
  • Finished career with just six interceptions despite extensive playing time

Player B

College Career (3 years) - 78 Total Tackles, 2.5 TFL, 5 INT, 20 PD, 1 FR

  • Desired size, length and strength for press man.
  • Patient feet rarely fall for release fakes.
  • Able to swivel hips and pursue with fluidity.
  • Mirrors shifting routes with basketball agility.
  • Rarely bites on the cheese against double moves.
  • Solid transition quickness to plant and drive on the throw.
  • Vertical specialists can overtake and stack him.
  • Inconsistent digesting route combinations.
  • Doesn’t play to his size in run support duties.
  • Inconsistent coming to balance as open-field tackler.

I assume you, like me, would look at Player A and say “Wow, that guy tackled a bunch more from the CB spot” and probably take him even though the rest of the passing game numbers are relatively close (with 1 more year of experience than Player B). Well, Player A is Tre’Davious White coming out of LSU (on some of the best SEC defenses this decade) and Player B is our very own Kaiir Elam (playing on some middling SEC defenses). Considering White was still considered a work in progress as a prospect in the run game with those numbers, I think he would be the perfect mentor to bring Elam up to speed…also doesn’t hurt that they have eerily similar profiles from an athletic and technique lens coming out of the SEC. If I am the Bills and the board drops like this, I happily turn in Elam’s name for the 25th pick and start mapping out a more palatable way to handle Hill/Waddle twice a year.

If you would like to see the NFL’s Draft Breakdown of him before voting, or just to get yourself more acquainted with Elam as a prospect, watch the video below. Thank you all again for reading this mock-up and #GoBirds!

Poll

Do you approve of this pick?

This poll is closed

  • 75%
    Yes
    (126 votes)
  • 24%
    No
    (40 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now

2022 BGN Mock Draft Order

1) Jaguars (HellBentOnHurts): DE Aidan Hutchinson
2) Lions (Friendly Neighborhood Philly Fan): DE Travon Walker
3) Texans (herbalonius): OT Evan Neal
4) Jets (RideHighTide): OT Ikem Ekwonu
5) Giants (Brendanekstrom): CB Ahmad Gardner
6) Panthers (Philliesandthebees): QB Kenny Pickett
7) Giants (Dr.MidnightGreen): DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
8) Falcons (Philly21): QB Malik Willis
9) Seahawks (chewy wellington) QB Matt Corral
10) Jets (tfrank9811): S Kyle Hamilton
11) Commanders (Negadelphia Norm): CB Derek Stingley Jr.
12) Vikings (Kephas): CB Trent McDuffie
13) Texans (Bdawk20rules): WR Drake London
14) Ravens (ablesser88): DT Jordan Davis
15) Eagles (Fly Like An Eagle): WR Chris Olave
16) Saints (20Safety_Hazard): OT Charles Cross
17) Chargers (LBCeaglesFan!): DT Devonte Wyatt
18) Eagles (Phoenix X Minimus): CB Andrew Booth Jr.
19) Saints (Georgia_eagle): WR Garrett Wilson
20) Steelers (EagleDomiNation) WR Jameson Williams
21) Patriots (Domonate): DE Jermaine Johnson
22) Packers (Leo Bedio): WR Treylon Burks
23) Cardinals (big DUB): DE George Karlaftis
24) Cowboys (joey2arms): S Jaquan Brisker
25) Bills (ItownBallers22): CB Kaiir Elam
26) Titans (BrianMcE03):
27) Buccaneers (4133Dave)
28) Packers (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop)
29) Chiefs (GreenGrampa)
30) Chiefs (Legend of Nick Foles)
31) Bengals (Thedeuce9)
32) Lions (Dtechman44)


Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected next in the 2022 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.

Poll

Who should the Bills pick at No. 25?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    CB Kaiir Elam
    (39 votes)
  • 41%
    CB Andrew Booth Jr.
    (65 votes)
  • 2%
    CB Kyler Gordon
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    OL Zion Johnson
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    OL Kenyon Green
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    S Daxton Hill
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    S Jaquan Brisker
    (2 votes)
  • 9%
    WR Treylon Burks
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    WR Christian Watson
    (2 votes)
  • 7%
    RB Breece Hall
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    RB Kenneth Walker
    (3 votes)
157 votes total Vote Now

1) Jaguars: DE Aidan Hutchinson
2) Lions: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
3) Texans: OT Evan Neal
4) Jets: OT Ikem Ekwonu
5) Giants: OT Charles Cross
6) Panthers: QB Malik Willis
7) Giants: CB Ahmad Gardner
8) Falcons: QB Kenny Pickett
9) Seahawks: S Kyle Hamilton
10) Jets: DE Travon Walker
11) Commanders: CB Derek Stingley Jr.
12) Vikings: CB Trent McDuffie
13) Texans: DE Jermaine Johnson
14) Ravens: DT Jordan Davis
15) Eagles: WR Jameson Williams
16) Saints: OT Trevor Penning
17) Chargers: DT Devonte Wyatt
18) Eagles: LB Devin Lloyd
19) Saints: WR Garrett Wilson
20) Steelers: QB Matt Corral
21) Patriots: WR Chris Olave
22) Packers: WR Drake London
23) Cardinals: DE George Karlaftis
24) Cowboys: C Tyler Linderbaum
25) Bils: