The Bills traded up to take Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam with the No. 23 pick in the first round. Elam adds much-needed depth at cornerback after Buffalo lost Levi Wallace in free agency and could be without Tre'Davious White in Week 1 as he recovers from a torn ACL.
The Bills also did well selecting Georgia running back James Cook in the second round. He can be a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield for Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen. The Bills added another intriguing offensive player in Round 3 by taking Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir, who's an excellent route runner with good speed.
The Bills even got the best punter in this draft class, Matt Araiza out of San Diego State.
The Bills quietly put together a solid, no-frills draft. They addressed a critical need in the first round by grabbing Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam, who brings good size, elite speed, and ball-hawking talent to Buffalo. He should be a plug-and-play starter. I like the fit of Georgia running back James Cook, who will play a hybrid role for the Bills as an explosive runner and versatile receiver (basically he'll be a more dynamic version of what I assume they were trying to sign J.D. McKissic to do). Boise State receiver Khalil Shakir is a great value and one of my favorite day-three sleepers, giving new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey a dynamic run-after-the-catch playmaker who can line up all across the formation. Add in the Punt God Matt Araiza in the sixth round and Buffalo comes out of this draft with a handful of early contributors.
Overall Grade: B+
The Bills did a fantastic job of addressing remaining needs at cornerback, running back, wide receiver that offers return ability, linebacker depth, and punter. While outside of Shakir the class lacks plus values, the players were picked in the appropriate range and the Bills are positioned well from a roster perspective entering a season where expectations couldn't be higher.
Buffalo Bills: B
Best Pick: First-round corner Kaiir Elam fills a need and will end up being an outstanding cover player. He has the length and talent to be a lock-down man player.
Worst Pick: I like second-round running back James Cook, but is he much different than Devin Singletary? Why not a bigger back who can run between the tackles?
The Skinny: This team doesn't have a lot of holes, but they filled a big one with Elam. Cook was a bit of a surprise, but I did like fifth-round receiver Khalil Shakir. This is the team to beat in the AFC.
The Buffalo Bills are in contender mode, which means if there's someone available who could make a difference in the playoffs, it makes sense to get aggressive. That's exactly what they did in trading up for Kaiir Elam. With all the talented passers in the AFC, Elam could be a crucial addition to the secondary.
James Cook adds another pass-catching dynamic option in the backfield to compete with Devin Singletary. That's an important step toward taking off some of the burden on Josh Allen.
Overall, the Day 2 picks weren't all that inspiring, but they were boosted by taking Khalil Shakir in the fifth round. He was the 43rd player overall on the B/R big board, and he adds another young receiver to Josh Allen's arsenal. Shakir could easily show a great return on investment as the heir apparent in the slot to the newly acquired Jamison Crowder.
Bills' best pick in the 2022 NFL Draft
Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State (Round 5, No. 148)
I thought about Florida's Kaiir Elam, with the team's hole at No. 2 cornerback. He's physical and speedy. I also thought about Georgia's James Cook, considering the Bills' need for a steady running back. I love the way he patiently finds a hole and hits it with good burst. But how could I pass on Shakir in the fifth round? He was my No. 102 prospect, but the talented route runner fell to Buffalo at No. 148. Adding him to a receiver group that already includes Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and Jamison Crowder is just smart team-building, and quarterback Josh Allen could turn him into a reliable starter in time.
Shakir works primarily out of the slot, but he can split out wide and even line up in the backfield. He often makes the first defender miss when he has the ball and reaches top speed (4.43 in the 40-yard dash) quickly. Shakir caught 77 passes for 1,117 yards last season and stood out at the Senior Bowl. The Bills got a potential steal on Day 3 here.
Buffalo was already a serious Super Bowl contender with its explosive offense, but that side of the ball definitely got even better at the draft.
#13. Buffalo Bills
Favorite pick: Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State
Considered a borderline top-100 pick, Shakir slipped to the Bills in the fifth round and he should be an immediate contributor. He plays with outstanding gear-control to create pockets of separation, especially out of the slot where he can find open zones. Shakir will be tough to keep off the field and could share slot snaps with Jamison Crowder as a rookie.
Day 3 pick who could surprise: Baylon Spector, LB, Clemson
A former safety, Spector has some tweener traits, but he was a draftable prospect because of his instincts and athleticism. I was really impressed with his balanced movements to hold up in space and break down as a tackler. Spector will be a tough guy to cut in training camp.
Khalil Shakir, WR (Round 2, No. 61 overall)
Honorable mention: Kaiir Elam, CB
Despite fielding one of the most dynamic offenses in football for majority of the 2021 season, the Bills actually finished with the second-lowest yards-after-the-catch-per-reception averages in football. Nuts, right? Shakir is going to boost those efforts in Buffalo. He forced 14 missed tackles on 77 receptions -- one every 5.5 grabs -- which was slightly better than Jameson Williams' average. Of course, Shakir doesn't have Williams' speed but did run 4.43 at the combine and also made ridiculous, acrobatic catches down the sideline seem routine in 2021. In Round 5, to get a well-rounded wideout like Shakir, was a massive steal for the Bills.
Post-draft Power Rankings
Buffalo Bills - Rank: #1
Previous rank: No. 1
The Bills used the draft to put the finishing touches on a loaded roster that has balance on both sides of the ball. First-round pick Kaiir Elam fills the void across from standout cornerback Tre'Davious White, while second-round pick James Cook -- brother of Vikings stud Dalvin -- adds some needed juice to the running back room. Josh Allen wasn't exactly hurting for weapons to begin with, but Cook's versatility, along with the quiet signing of underrated slot man Jamison Crowder, will make Buffalo's attack even more difficult to contend with. Good luck, AFC.
#1) Buffalo Bills
The Bills only really had one dire need heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, and they addressed it by drafting Kaiir Elam in the first round. He'll pair nicely with Tre'Davious White.
They also needed some juice at running back. A receiving weapon out of the backfield is something Josh Allen could use to take another step forward in his insane progression. They got that with James Cook. Terrel Bernard simply adds depth to an already ridiculous group of linebackers.
#2. Buffalo Bills
Plenty of pundits are equally bullish on Buffalo's chances of making a trip to the Super Bowl this year. The team has a loaded offense that added veterans like wide receiver Jamison Crowder and rookies like running back James Cook.
The Bills also sport the NFL's best defense from a year ago, and while that defense suffered a couple of losses, it also added Pro Bowl edge-rusher Von Miller in free agency and selected Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam in the draft's first round.
From No. 1 to No. 53, there may not be a more balanced and talented roster in the NFL.
Scroll to see photos from inside the Buffalo Bills Draft Room during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
#2 Buffalo Bills
Landing Von Miller changes this team in a big way, and I liked the addition of first-round corner Kaiir Elam. Josh Allen is a star, and this roster is loaded.
#2. Buffalo Bills
The one glaring need that the Bills had was addressed by drafting Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam in the first round. The club also drafted Dalvin Cook's brother, Georgia running back James Cook to add speed out of the backfield. _
Buffalo drafted Boise State receiver Khalil Shakir in the fifth round to give Josh Allen another reliable target, which will help the club not miss a step heading into the 2022 season as a contender.
#2. Buffalo Bills
The Bills should again be considered co-AFC favorites with the Chiefs as they have few weaknesses around their Josh Allen-led offense after a few tweaks. They also keep adding great depth and playmaking punch for Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier's defense. The special teams has been improved, too, with rookie punter Matt Araiza when needed.