The Bills’ 2022 rookie class offered immediate returns — in a few cases, out of sheer need — but might be best judged in a few years’ time. It appears on the surface to be a promising draft haul, yet one with a ceiling.
First-rounder Kaiir Elam was a surprise inactive at one point, but he finished the season strong with two good playoff showings, serving as a launching pad for Year 2. Fellow CB Christian Benford started fairly well before an oblique injury derailed his season, but there has been talk of moving him to safety next season with uncertainty at that position.
James Cook fumbled his first NFL touch and found the doghouse early. But by year’s end, he’d carved out a nice role and flashed some real game-breaking ability in extended duty against the Patriots and Bears. He’s on the rise for sure, just as Khalil Shakir might be. Similar to Elam, Shakir stepped up his game in the two postseason contests and could be in the regular WR rotation in 2023, with changes likely coming at that position in Buffalo.
The rest of the class might carry limited future potential, and there’s already the sting of one wasted pick (Araiza). A core special-teamer as a rookie who made a big block on Nyheim Hines’ emotional kick-return TD vs. New England, Terrel Bernard could factor more heavily on defense if Tremaine Edmunds walks in free agency.
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