ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — A pre-draft visit that made an impression. Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam is a guy Bills general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have been high on since he came to Orchard Park a few weeks ago.
"He was impressive," Beane said. "At the end of our lunch I asked if he had any questions about the Bills or the NFL. He asked, 'What has Tre'Davious White done to be so good? What do you see in my game that you like and what do you think I need to get better at? Just some really good questions. A guy that's serious and focused and driven to be really good at his craft is what I took from it."
That visit led Beane and the Bills front office to give Elam a 1st round grade. They didn't have many of them, but they felt optimistic about their chances of getting a guy they really wanted and valued as a 1st rounder. As Thursday night's 1st round went into the 10 p.m. hour, however, the Bills watched more and more guys come off their board. At one point, Elam was the only player on their board with a 1st round grade and Beane knew he had to do something.
It was then that the Bills traded up two spots, sending their 25th pick and a 4th rounder to Baltimore, to get their guy.
"It just felt like it was within striking distance," Beane said. "It's definitely one position we wanted to add depth. And obviously I've been hearing it loud and clear 'we don't have a corner' from every single one of you, neighbors, kids, everyone, so we'll all sleep good tonight knowing we added a corner."
The Bills do lack depth at the cornerback position. Levi Wallace, who has started opposite Tre'Davious White for the last few years, left in the offseason. White, meanwhile, is still recovering from an ACL injury he suffered last Thanksgiving. There's a few more guys on the depth chart including Dane Jackson, who filled in for White last season, but the addition of Elam adds some much needed competition.
"Kaiir will have to come in and earn it. We still expect Tre to be ready to roll here at the beginning of the season," Beane reiterated. "Drafting Kaiir doesn't mean he's going to be a starter but it adds another guy, adds some size and length outside, and he'll have to come in here as a rookie and earn it."
Elam is used to playing at a high level of competition. In three seasons with the Florida Gators, he covered several former and current 1st round draft picks. His film was impressive and Beane believes he'll be a perfect fit as a boundary corner for this already dominant defense.
"We think he has a high ceiling. He's a young player. We just feel like he's got a lot of things he does well. He's a bigger, longer guy. He's got speed to carry the vertical," Beane said about his strengths. "He's got some versatility in the sense in he can play off, he can play press. I think it'll give Leslie [Frazier] more options as to what to do with him."
The Bills have six more picks to make between Friday and Saturday. Round two begins Friday night at 7 p.m.