When I profiled Texas Longhorns safety Kenny Vaccaro I mentioned safety as an under-the-radar possibility for the New York Giants in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft because of Antrel Rolle's long-term future being in question and the fact that Kenny Phillips is an unrestricted free agent and Stevie Brown is a restricted free agent. Today I'd like to use our 2013 NFL Draft prospect profile to look at another safety who could be selected in the first round -- Matt Elam of the Florida Gators.
Elam is a play maker who has put together a terrific highlight reel full of big hits and interceptions. Elam has a nice size speed combination (5-foot-10, 207 pounds), even though he's not huge for a safety he's compactly built and can run. Elam is a terrific tackler and does a good job of coverage in front of him. Elam plays with good anticipation and has plus instincts. Like Vaccaro, Elam has been used in multiple roles for the Gators: in the box, as a deep safety valve, and covering slot receivers. Elam is an excellent blitzer from the safety position. Elam is a vocal leader and a spark plug for the defense.
He's most comfortable playing in the box and playing the ball in front of him and while he's a great tackler, he will go for the big punishing hit instead of making the safe play. He is at times overly aggressive and will get burned because of his aggression. Elam was cited for underage alcohol possession in the summer of 2011 (Not that I think it matters that a college kid was drinking, but I thought it should be mentioned).
Player comparison: Quentin Mikell (NFL.com), Charles Godfrey (CBS Sports)
Does He Fit With The Giants?
He's an emotional leader who makes big plays for a big-time BCS program. Understand when I say that Elam is not great in deep coverage that's not a huge knock. I mean he doesn't play like Kenny Phillips, but he's not a liability in coverage either. He's just better at doing things like playing the ball in front of him, blitzing, and helping in run support. I think he'll only improve in coverage moving forward and should be an excellent special teams player from the onset.
This video comes from @jmpasq on twitter.
Big Board Rankings
National Football Post-133rd
Mocking the Draft-48th
Big Blue View Board-32nd
I'm a little surprised to see that I have Elam ranked the highest out of these big boards. Elam is a very nice NFL prospect who combines tangibles (size/speed/production) with intangibles (brother plays in the NFL/vocal leader on the team/ reportedly loves football). Elam should be one of the first three safeties off the board and definitely off the board before the end of Round 2 unless something drastic happens between now and the draft.
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