How Can This Rookie Win Defensive Rookie Of The Year In 2022

June 19, 2022
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There’s ample reason to expect a lot out of Kaiir Elam in the 2022 NFL season. But what is Elam’s ceiling in the upcoming season? He’s definitely on the short list of rookie players to watch for Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY). He comes into the fold this season in a Buffalo Bills’ secondary that looks to strengthen its unit after last season.

Murky Waters

The Bills’ 2022 secondary remains a bit of a work-in-progress considering the fact Tre’Davious White continues to slowly work his way back from last season’s ACL tear. White’s ACL tear also featured a meniscus tear, and while fans have good reason to expect he’ll be able to come back and be an excellent player once again, we should also be under no illusions as to why Elam was selected by the team in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Coming Along

According to witness accounts, Elam has been making promising strides so far in his short time in a Bills uniform. He’s making excellent progress on his ball skills which is going to pay off big time once the regular season begins. He’s going to be able to go up against Josh Allen and the explosive offense in practice which is going to help him out immensely in real-time situations. He’s rarely going to be going against an offense as potent as the one he will face in practice.

How’s Your Poker Face?

Elam seems to be comfortable with his position on the team already. Whether there’s a bit of a bluff in this demeanor or not, sometimes, as the old saying goes, you’ve got to fake it until you make it. And why wouldn’t he make it? His college resume is excellent and he’s going to be thrown into the fire immediately once the season begins. The coaching staff is already anticipating starting the season either without Tre’Davious White or with a limited Tre’Davious White. Expectations for the rookie couldn’t be higher.

Getting After ‘Em

With the offseason addition of Von Miller, the Bills expect to get to the quarterback at a much higher clip this season than last. This bodes well for Elam and the rest of the secondary. If Miller, 33, can prove to be even marginally as effective as he was previously, that’s not just going to mean additional sacks and pressures for the defense. It’s also going to mean an increased number of forced passes.

It’s in situations like this where the rookie is going to have his biggest chance to shine and make his case for DROY. If he can do what needs to be done in these situations, expect the defense as a whole to be outstanding this season. Pre-season predictions have presumed as much.

Good Offense Means Good Defense(?)

The Bills’ offense is going to be crucial in deciding Elam’s success this season as well. It’s expected that the offensive will be among the most explosive in the NFL in 2022. Taking big leads in several games throughout the season is going to mean that opposing teams are going to have to throw the football at a significant clip to stage an attempted comeback.

Football is a team sport. It’s a cliché but it’s true. Much of the impact the secondary could have this season will come down to the effectiveness of the offense. With Gabriel Davis fitting into his role as a star receiver in the league, things seem to be taking shape for the kind of season that could give Elam the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Staying on Route

Elam’s ability to run alongside receivers is remarkable. He’s rarely beat off the route and shows excellent capabilities of recovering on the route on the rare occasion in which he may be. This is the ultimate reason to be excited about the rookie. In the NFL, the ability of the secondary to stick with its assignment is absolutely crucial. Unlike college football, where QBs are inexperienced and mistake-prone compared to their NFL counterparts, he will have to prove himself capable of sticking with routes in clear necessity.

Bottom Line

If Elam can do all of these things, and if his teammates around him are able and willing to pick him up when he makes rookie mistakes, I see a good reason to anticipate he could be a candidate for DROY. He’s in arguably the best position of any rookie defender to do so.