Buffalo Bills Training Camp Battles – Cornerback

July 21, 2022
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One of the more intriguing Buffalo Bills training camp battles will be the one that takes place on the defensive side of the ball, the cornerback position. Perhaps most are assuming Tre’Davious White will be back and full strength in Week One; however, with his injury, historically it takes almost a full year to be back at 100%.

What about the rest of the corners on this roster? The Bills spent a first-round pick on Kaiir Elam and fully expect him to take the number two corner spot opposite White. The concern though, will White be fully healthy come Week One? If not, Elam’s readiness to step in right away becomes that much more vital to the Bills’ early season success.

If White isn’t ready to go, the names after him and Elam, are unknowns, outside of maybe Cam Lewis. Without Levi Wallace on the team now, there is no clear-cut number three corner heading into training camp. Taron Johnson is a lock at the slot corner; however, I’m not so sure Elam is the clear number two, as Dane Jackson may have something to say about that.

Dane Jackson filled in admirably a season ago when White went down with an injury. The Bills’ defense maintained their number one overall ranking; however, there weren’t any “splash” plays. He played in all 17 games, started six, and recorded 41 total tackles, with six passes defended but no interceptions. With Jackson’s experience in the league and Frazier’s scheme, he has a leg up on Elam as the number two, possibly number one, depending on White’s availability.

Ideally, White will be good to go and Elam can step in and play at the level White did throughout his rookie season. Who knows, maybe Elam plays at a level that earns him Defensive Rookie of the Year. If so, Jackson will be a solid number two if White needs a little more time and will afford the team to not feel a need to rush White back on the field.

Cam Lewis will likely be the number four on the depth chart, behind White, Elam, and Jackson. After that though, the depth chart is filled with the likes of Christian Benford, Olaijah Griffin, Tim Harris, and Nick McCloud. There are only five years of NFL experience among these four players. There is also Siran Neal, listed as a defensive back, who has played multiple positions in the secondary and could step in as a cornerback, if necessary.

The only real training camp battle will be the number two corner between Elam and Jackson. No question, Jackson’s experience will be an advantage; however, where Elam lacks in experience, he more than makes up for in pure skill and athleticism. I believe the number two corner is Elam’s to lose but we will see how this plays out during training camp.

Elam has done all the right things thus far, including getting into the playbook almost immediately upon being drafted. He’s made plays in OTAs and mini-camp as well. He’s shown a desire and work ethic to be great and if he can reach Defensive Rookie of the Year level play, this secondary will be the best in the league. Add to that, the new look defensive front bringing the heat down after down, this defense has the potential to be historically great.

At the end of the day, I believe the corner depth chart will shake out with White at the top and ready to go for Week One, followed by Elam, Jackson, and Neal rounding out the top four, with of course Johnson locking down slot receivers. After that, it’s anyone’s guess who will make the 53-man roster, who is relegated to the practice squad, and who finds themselves looking for a new team after the pre-season.

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