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Fun things to know about Buffalo's 2022 draft class

The 2022 NFL Draft is officially a wrap. The Buffalo Bills welcomed eight new members to their team—CB Kaiir Elam, RB James Cook, LB Terrel Bernard, WR Kahlil Shakir, P Matt Araiza, CB Christian Benford, OL Luke Tenuta and LB Baylon Spector.

Here are four fun facts to know about the draft class.

Buffalo Bills first round draft pick, Kaiir Elam, arrives for his first day in Buffalo on April 29, 2022.  Photo by Ben Green

1. Football is family

It's not uncommon for football to run in the family of someone who gets drafted into the NFL. In fact, this year's class has plenty of relatives who played the sport at a high level.

Cornerback Kaiir Elam's father, Abram, played in the NFL from 2006 to 2012 and played collegiately at Notre Dame. Elam's uncle, Matt, was a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and played for the Ravens for three seasons. The CB gives a lot of credit to how the two helped him grow as a football player.

"Being able to learn from their mistakes, learning things they didn't know at my age, I think just helped me in this process so much and throughout life and becoming a man," Elam said of his dad and uncle. "I would just like to credit those guys and give them their flowers because without them, without my mom, without my family members, I probably wouldn't sitting in front of you right now."

Buffalo Bills first round draft pick, Kaiir Elam, arrives for his first day in Buffalo on April 29, 2022.  Photo by Ben Green

It's not just Elam either. Running back James Cook's brother is running back Dalvin Cook who currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings. Dalvin has had three-straight seasons of 1,000 rushing yards and has scored 35 rushing touchdowns over the last three years. 

Cook said his brother helped prepare him for this moment.

"I got to go out there and perform for myself because he's going to go out there and do it for him," Cook said of Dalvin. "So, it's great looking up to him as an older brother, but I've got to go out there and still get the job done and play football." 

OL Luke Tenuta has a brother and father who grew up playing football. Tenuta's dad, Jon, played collegiately at Virginia and has been a football coach since the 1980s. His brother, Zach, is currently a defensive coordinator at Norfolk State University and played the sport collegiately. 

LB Baylon Spector's father, Robbie, played for Clemson from 1988 to 1990. His brother, Brannon, is currently a wide receiver for Clemson and was Spector's teammate from 2019 to 2021.

2. SEC products

Buffalo's first two picks in the 2022 NFL Draft both came from the SEC. CB Kaiir Elam played collegiately at the University of Florida and RB James Cook went to Georgia. One reason why Bills general manager Brandon Beane drafted these two is because they played for one of the most competitive conferences in college football. 

"The SEC for the most part, at most positions seems to be more stacked," Beane said. "And so it is the closest one to our league to be able to project most times. So, with Kaiir (Elam) and then again today with James (Cook), we obviously watch Georgia, all of us that follow college football. He made some really big plays, including in the national championship game against Alabama. So, you see it translate."

Elam and Cook didn't just play in the SEC, they also had impressive careers. Elam was named to the All-SEC First Team in 2020. He also had six interceptions and 26 passes defensed in his three years with Florida. Cook won a national championship in 2021 and also racked up more than 1,000 scrimmage yards and 11 total touchdowns. In his four seasons with Georgia, Cook scored 20 total touchdowns.

Scroll through to see the photos of the Buffalo Bills' day two picks, RB James Cook and LB Terrel Bernard as they spend their first day at One Bills Drive

3. Familiarity with roster

Some of our newest Bills are already feeling comfortable with Buffalo because of the relationships they have with players on the roster. Running back James Cook is one of those players and has been training with running back Devin Singletary this offseason. Cook is also familiar with several other players who train in or are from the South Florida area.

"Me and Motor (Singletary) work out," Cook shared. "We work out together in the offseason, the whole offseason. Me and Motor are a one-two punch."

Cook said coming from Miami and playing around top-tier talent his entire life has turned him into a better player because of the competition he faced.

4. Adding more height to offensive line room

In last year's draft, the Bills added two 6'8" offensive linemen to the team in Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle. Bills general manager Brandon Beane did the same thing in this year's draft and added another 6'8" offensive lineman in Luke Tenuta.

Beane jokingly said he's continuing to add to his basketball team full of Bills offensive linemen.

"He's a bigger, taller guy similar to Tommy Doyle coming out of Miami of Ohio," Beane said of Tenuta. "Just being able to bend and get up underneath people's pads. He plays tall, so guys at this level can get underneath your pads quickly and they know how to do it. So, the speed, his feet and he'll have to get guys around his edge quicker than probably he saw a lot at Virginia Tech."

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