Buffalo Bills: 5 key position battles to watch in the first preseason game

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills
Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills / Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages
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Buffalo Bills Position Battle: Number Two Cornerback

Much different than just a year ago, the Bills are set to start the season with star cornerback Tre White back as their number one. However, it has pushed a very intriguing battle for the cornerback spot opposite of him. It’s a three-way battle between veteran Dane Jackson, 2022 first-round pick Kaiir Elam, and 2022 sixth-round pick Christian Benford. All three are unique in their own way and are making it a tight race.

Dane Jackson is a former seventh-round pick of the Bills in the 2020 NFL Draft, and another late-round defensive contributor general manager, Brandon Beane, found. Jackson served as a depth piece early on and played well in limited opportunities.

Last season he served as the team’s number-one cornerback in Tre White’s place, logging 23 passes defended, two interceptions, and 57 total tackles. Jackson did play well last season but at times, got beat and picked on. So far, Jackson has had a nice training camp with plenty of highlight reel pass breakups. He is at his best playing zone coverage.

Fans have been clamoring for Kaiir Elam to be the team’s full-time number-two cornerback since the team drafted him in the first round. The second-year corner never popped enough to force the coaches to leave him on the field.

For some reason, the Bills coaching staff is tough on him and it seems they don’t fully trust him. In his rookie season, he would split time with Christian Benford. Last year Elam appeared in 13 games and earned six starts in which he had four passes defended, two interceptions, and 41 total tackles.

The best game of his career came in the playoffs against Miami. Elam has had a back-and-forth camp that’s included some top-notch practices and some mediocre ones. He is at his best in man coverage and press coverage.

Christian Benford was another one of those late-round Brandon Beane gems. Benford started making noise right out of the gate last pre-season. His play was a large part of why Elam never ran away with the number two cornerback spot and forced a platoon heading into the season.

The former Villanova Wildcat appeared in nine games his rookie season, including five starts where he posted five passes defended, one interception, and 24 total tackles. Benford is red hot this week heading into the game versus the Colts, with a two-interception practice and three interceptions in two days. He has great natural instincts and ball-hawking ability.