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Bills trade up for Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam at No. 23

The Bills need depth at the corner position with the departure of Levi Wallace and Tre'Davious White still out recovering from an ACL tear.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills have drafted Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam (pronounced Kai-ear Ee-Lam).

The Bills need depth at the corner position with the departure of Levi Wallace and Tre'Davious White still out recovering from an ACL tear.

For Elam, The Bills traded their No. 25 and No. 130 to the Baltimore Ravens.

Elam is a 6-foot, 1-inch, 191-pound corner from Riviera Beach, Florida. During his time at Florida, he recorded six picks in 35 games along with 79 solo tackles, 23 passes defended, one fumble recovery and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Elam was a finalist for the Jim Thrope Award for the 2020 season. 

His father, Abram, played seven years in the FL. His uncle, Matt Elam, was a former first round pick.

Buffalo moved up two spots to make the pick, trading the No. 25 and 130th picks to Baltimore to jump ahead of the Dallas Cowboys. The Ravens had just acquired the No. 23 pick in a trade with Arizona.

After intercepting three passes during his freshman season, Elam earned first-team All-SEC honors in 2020 in leading the Gators with 11 tackles in 13 games, including five starts. He had one interception and was credited with defending six passes in 10 games, while missing three with a knee injury.

Elam’s selection is a departure from Beane’s three previous drafts in which he concentrated on adding heft to his defensive and offensive lines. That was especially apparent last year, when the Bills used their first two picks to select defensive ends Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham before selecting offensive linemen Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle with their next two picks.

Barring trades, the Bills have six more picks over the final six rounds, starting with the 57th and 89th overall selections on Friday.

Elam becomes Buffalo's first cornerback selected in the first round since White went No. 27 in 2017.

Buffalo has emerged as an AFC power in the five years since Beane and coach Sean McDermott’s arrival. The Bills have qualified for the playoffs in four of the past five years and are the AFC East two-time defending champions for the first time since a four-year run from 1988 to ’91.

Beane creatively overcame the team’s tight salary cap restrictions to improve what had been a middling pass rush in free agency last month. The moves were highlighted by a headline-grabbing move of signing the NFL’s active sacks leader, Von Miller, to a six-year contract.

Buffalo also restocked its defensive line with Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips returning for second stints, as well as the additions of DaQuan Jones and Tim Settle.

Aside from defensive back, the Bills had depth needs at receiver after cutting Cole Beasley and with Emmanuel Sanders completing his one-year contract and yet to decide whether to retire.

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