What did the Buffalo Bills find with their sixth-round draft selection Christian Benford? So far, he’s done nothing but impress in training camp and the pre-season games.
Bills’ Surprise Wings
Christian Benford was quite a mystery for the average football fan when the Bills took him in the sixth-round of this past draft. Coming out of a small football school in Villanova many thought that this was a throwaway pick. One made like a shot in the dark. With low expectations coming in, it seems as though that throw may have hit its mark.
Where It All Began
Christian grew up in Randallstown, Maryland where he attended Randallstown high school and would play high school football. Many times, nowadays, growing up in a suburb of a big city like Baltimore if you are a high-profile athlete, you’d be recruited to go to a prep school which specializes in that sport. Unfortunately for Benford, he was never given that opportunity. But he continued to make the most of what he was given. As a senior in high school, Benford was named to the All-Metro and All-Baltimore teams again proving the local coaches wrong.
Even after receiving those two local awards, Benford was not a household name in the recruiting world and did not receive an offer from any of the power five schools (SEC, BIG 12, BIG 10, ACC, Pac 12.) He received two offers coming out of school, a chance to play at Morgan State or make the short drive to Villanova. Ultimately, he chose ‘Nova.
After committing to Villanova, Christian earned his wings. As a true freshman, he appeared in nine games with eight starts which is rare for a true freshman who wasn’t highly recruited let alone recruited in the capacity Benford was. At the end of his freshman year, Christian left his mark on his team and the conference after finishing the season with 49 total tackles, five interceptions, and six pass breakups. He was named the CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year and third-team All-CAA.
As a sophomore, he had another year worth noting with seven starts while appearing in ten games, finishing the season with a lone interception and five pass breakups, it seemed he had hit his ceiling. Or so many had thought. Christian rebounded in his junior year. That was the Covid year when smaller football conferences moved their schedule from fall to spring. Finishing that season, he was named to the first-team All-CAA in his shortened season.
In his Senior year he stepped on the stage and put the nation on notice. Back to the regular routine and grind of fall football Benford, was ready. He racked up 39 total tackles but had seven interceptions and led all FCS players with 18 pass breakups and was again named to the first-team All-CAA.
Going back to the beginning I mentioned Christian Benford wasn’t highly recruited out of high school. The same goes for coming out of college. There’s always something to be said about players who stay in college for their junior and or senior year. Meaning usually, those players have reached their ceiling and won’t continue to improve to what it takes to be a professional. Again, usually.
Christian wasn’t asked to attend the national scouting combine in Indianapolis this past year. Oftentimes those spots are reserved for the cream of the crop top 200ish players in FBS and a few high-profile players from lower-end colleges like say, Villanova. But yet again he was snubbed and only able to profile his athletic abilities at the ‘Nova pro-day and private workouts for individual teams.
To his credit, Benford felt like he had done and shown enough to the NFL community to throw his hat in the ring and enter the NFL draft after graduating. Maybe to his and many others’ surprise, he was expected to be a late day-three pick or an undrafted free agent, the Bills agreed with Christian on his abilities when selecting him with the 185th pick.
After the draft, we were all excited that the Bills finally took another corner in Kaiir Elam with a high draft pick to replace Levi Wallace. Not to say that Wallace was terrible for Buffalo, but he always left more to be desired. The Mafia was excited, “Okay we have our guy opposite Tre’ White, everything is solved.” That was a quote I personally heard many times. Now we may have another problem.
Elam has played particularly well this pre-season. Not making jaw-dropping plays necessarily but being very active on defense and holding his own, even against the opposing team’s number one offense being on the field. The issue lies in the fact that Christian Benford has played just as well! Early in Bills’ camp, we heard reports of Benford stepping in and playing against the likes of Stefon Diggs or Gabriel Davis and having impressive reps against them. Now you have to take camp reports with a grain of salt.
After seeing him line up against opposing offenses, he doesn’t look out of place one bit. It’s clear as day that he belongs in this league. He is still a raw prospect coming out of a lower division of football and not playing against top talent, but every time he is given the opportunity to play, he’s impressed.
Can I Get These Wings To Go?
The camp battle to see who is going to be the CB2 for Buffalo will be a fun and crazy one to watch. Tre’ White is obviously the locked in CB1 when he comes back, but until then there may be two corner spots for the taking. Dane Jackson seems to be in the driver’s seat for one of those spots. But as a fellow late day-three draft pick, he has to earn his playing time the same as Benford.
Christian, we can’t wait to watch you compete with the Buffalo Bills. You’re a dog and have earned everything by fighting every step of the way. Please, continue to keep fighting and you’ll continue to get what you deserve. So from us in Bills Mafia to you Mr. Benford, welcome to Buffalo, and enjoy your wings.
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