2022 NFL Draft: Grades for Kaiir Elam and Every Other Buffalo Bills Pick

The Buffalo Bills entered the 2022 NFL Draft in a rather luxurious position. Despite the heartbreaking loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in last year’s divisional round, they still had a tier-one quarterback in Josh Allen and tremendous infrastructure around him that ensured their competitiveness for years to come. 

Adding another top-end wide receiver alongside the newly extended Stefon Diggs would have made Allen’s life that much easier, and the rest of the draft needed to fall on the other side of the ball. Pairing Tre’Davious White with another premier cornerback would surely pay dividends, as would making improvements to the linebacker corps, and that’s exactly what the Bills did.  

Buffalo is already a legit contender in the AFC. Now it’s time to tack on some gravy. 

2022 NFL Draft picks by Buffalo Bills

  • No. 23 Overall: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
  • No. 63 Overall: James Cook, RB, Georgia
  • No. 89 Overall: Terrel Bernard, LB, Baylor
  • No. 148 Overall: Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State
  • No. 180 Overall: Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State
  • No. 185 Overall: Christian Benford, CB, Villanova
  • No. 209 Overall: Luke Tenuta, OT, Virginia Tech
  • No. 231 Overall: Baylon Spector, LB, Clemson

No. 23 Overall: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Florida CB Kaiir Elam is the Buffalo Bills draft pick in the first-round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Buffalo Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam | Mike Calendrillo/Sportscasting

Kaiir Elam is an excellent pick for the Buffalo Bills, but the team drops a half-letter grade for trading up to get him. Despite the head-scratching move, Buffalo filled its biggest need with a 6-foot-1½, 191-pound cornerback who ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the combine. Elam will be a great partner for Tre’Davious White when he gets back from his injury and should make the Bills’ D even better. Fun fact about Elam, his dad, Abram Elam, and uncle, Matt Elam, both played safety in the NFL.

Grade: A-

No. 63 Overall: James Cook, RB, Georgia

Dalvin Cook’s little brother is heading to Western New York. Georgia running back James Cook isn’t the bell cow that Breece Hall or Kenneth Walker III is, but his incredible ability to catch passes makes him a weapon that new Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will love to use creatively. He’s not the inside runner his brother is, but he can still become a home run hitter with Josh Allen and company.

Grade: B+

No. 89 Overall: Terrel Bernard, LB, Baylor

The Bills need depth at linebacker so this pick makes sense on that level. However, Terrel Bernard is just 6-foot-1, 224-pounds, and has a dicey injury history. If he can gain weight and stay healthy, he’s a gritty leader that is beloved by teammates, coaches, and scouts. The main worry is he won’t last long in the NFL.

Grade: C+

Day 3 Picks

No. 148 Overall: Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State

Shakir will become an excellent slot receiver in the league and is a perfect replacement for Cole Beasley. He can also run the ball and returned kicks. He’s another versatile chess piece for new OC Ken Dorsey.

Grade: A

No. 180 Overall: Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State

The Punt God! Araiza has a monster left leg. He hit 18 punts of 60-plus yards last season and two at 80-plus yards. He’ll need to kick with more hang time and control in the NFL. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound punter has Pat McAfee-style athleticism and can kickoff and placekick as well to help the Bills special teams with kicker injury insurance as well.

Grade: A+

No. 185 Overall: Christian Benford, CB, Villanova

The Bills continue addressing their biggest area of need at corner. Benford is a little slow-footed but should be able to cover all but the fastest third and fourth WRs. At 6-foot-1, 208-pounds, he could develop into a safety as well.

Grade: B

No. 209 Overall: Luke Tenuta, OT, Virginia Tech

Tenuta’s father is a USFL defensive coordinator, so the Hokies tackle knows football. He’s tall at 6-foot-8 and has experience on the left and right sides, but is a long-term project at the NFL level.

Grade: C+

No. 231 Overall: Baylon Spector, LB, Clemson

Spector is an average-sized off-ball linebacker who will be a good special teams player and can provide depth at the LB position.

Grade: C+

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