Dan Mullen Previews Alabama at Florida

Dan Mullen Previews Alabama at Florida

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Alabama Game Week Scouting Report: Florida Cornerback Kaiir Elam

BamaCentral and NFL Draft Bible team up to profile key players Alabama will face this season, who have a chance to be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

We're just going to cut to the chase when it comes to cornerback Kaiir Elam, he's probably Florida's best player this season. 

The cornerback will almost certainly be the first Gator selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, and Elam could be selected in the first half of the first round. 

He also has some extra motivation this season, fueled by the way Florida finished in 2020. 

“We lost the last (three) games, I feel like that really motivated everybody, everybody in my class I know that for sure, for a fact because that’s unacceptable, that's not the Gator standard," Elam told All Gators.

"People can say we ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda.’ At the end of the day I feel like that just left a bad taste in your mouth, that last final game against Oklahoma. So I feel like guys are motivated off of that.”

Elam finished his sophomore campaign with 39 tackles (28 solo), including one for a loss, with two interceptions, 11 pass breakups and one fumble recovery.

One of the few knocks on him is consistency.

"I can have dominant plays on film and then I might have just a whole, like ... "Elam said. "So just being more consistent and being where I’m supposed to be [is a goal.]

"So, I feel like nobody better than me. I feel like I’m supposed to dominate every single play and every single game.”

Kaiir Elam

Jersey: No. 5
Position: Cornerback 
Height: 6-2
Weight: 195
DOB: 5/5/01
Draft eligible: 2022
Hometown: Riviera Beach, Florida
High School: The Benjamin School

(Note: NFL Draft Bible had two evaluators check out Dean, Lorenz Leinweber and Jeremiah Bogan. Their opinions are listed separately)

Background

Raised in Riviera Beach, Florida. Four-star recruit according to 247Sports. Played both defensive back and receiver in high school. Ran track and played basketball in high school. Had over 40 offers coming out of high school. Major is unknown. Academic standout. Father Abe had a seven-year NFL career. Uncle Matt was the 32nd pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to the Baltimore Ravens and was cut after getting arrested for drug and later battery and theft charges.

Pros

Leinweber: Well-put together outside cornerback with desired size and length. Elam is a good athlete with sufficient long speed, acceleration and above-average recovery speed. His hips are low and fluid in space allowing him to flip them easily. For a big corner, he has quick feet in space. Elam makes use of his length in press, establishing contact with wideouts off the line and again at the top of routes. He is confident to stay square and sit on routes. Shows great spatial awareness and eye discipline in press bail, staying ahead of the receiver while looking at the passer. Elam possesses very good ball skills, locating it in the air and high pointing the ball. His long arms allow him to make plays from disadvantageous leverage. Contests the catch point and plays through the hands. Sheds blocks with his length. Elam sees the field well in zone coverage and gets to sensible spots when not threatened.

Bogan: Long boundary corner with prototypical length and physicality. Loves playing from a press alignment where he utilizes a hands before feet approach, often opting to use his length to disrupt receivers with off-hand stabs and two-hand jams. Emphasizes using a kick step to win against vertical releases and force receivers off their path. Most comfortable playing away from the line of scrimmage whether it be in off-man or zone coverage. Shows good feel in zone coverage for seeing routes develop and passing routes off to attach to another. Impressive short area quickness for his size when driving downhill, showing good burst out of his breaks with clean footwork. Physical throughout the route with savvy veteran tricks, pushes down on the shoulder pads of receivers and keeps his hands on them without being grabby. Consistently will compete at the catch point with his length and very good ball skills to produce high pass breakup numbers and interceptions. Translates his physicality into the run game, shows good play strength to hold the edge on blocks while being a strong tackler.

Cons

Leinweber: Does not play to his size in press where he lacks pop behind his punch. Elam gets pushed off in man coverage. His size and the average lateral agility and twitch that come with it hurt his ability to stick with quicker wideouts underneath and from off. He comes in low as a tackler but stops his feet, getting ran over. His effort to make potential touchdown-saving tackles can be poor. Very fast wideouts get a step on him.

Bogan: Can be a lunger from press, putting himself at a disadvantage at times where he has to just open and run with receivers. Long speed is concerning as he does not have the foot speed to consistently carry receivers vertically, lacking recovery speed needed to get back in phase when out of position. Lacks burst and acceleration when needing to flip his hips to stay in phase, needing a few steps before he gets going. Looks to be more of a scheme-specific corner at this point in his development despite having a ton of experience.

Summary

Leinweber: Possessing prototypical size and length, Elam is a good athlete with fluid, low hips. He has great spatial awareness and vision. His ball skills allow him to force turnovers. Does not always play to his size in press and gets ran over. Quick wideouts give him trouble. Elam projects as a quality starting corner in a cover three scheme. If he becomes more physical, he will be great in press bail.

Bogan: Long limbed, physical corner who looks like he was born to be the next corner in the Seattle Cover 3 style scheme that has taken over the league. Has mastered the kick step from press that Cover 3 teams look for as a changeup while having the IQ and short area quickness to play tight on throws underneath. Limited athlete who will struggle to run with faster and twitchier receivers, will not hold up playing predominantly man at the next level. Projects as a strong starting cornerback in a Cover 3 scheme in the NFL or a scheme that allows him to play a majority of his reps away from the line of scrimmage.

Grades

Leinweber: 8.4 (current value)/ 9.0 (potential value)

Bogan: 8.0 / 8.8

BamaCentral Analysis 

The Gators like to claim to be worthy of the DBU moniker, and this season he's the key. Elam's long and tall, so Alabama's play against him may be to aim for some completions under his coverage and go at him physically. He had six tackles (five solo) against the Crimson Tide in the 2020 SEC Championship Game, but the flip side is what stood out. Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith had 15 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns as Florida never had an answer. Fortunately for the Gators he's now with the Eagles, but the Crimson Tide tallied 418 passing yards and 605 yards total offense. Todd Grantham's defense will be better this time around. For Elam this is the kind of game that can mean the difference in being selected as an All-American, or for being up for an honor like the Jim Thorpe Award.  

BamaCentral will profile a different Florida player each day this week as Alabama heads to the Swamp to face the Gators in a rematch of the 2020 SEC Championship Game. Also check out NFL Draft Bible.

Emory Jones

Ventrell Miller

Trey Dean III 

Zachary Carter

We're just going to cut to the chase when it comes to cornerback Kaiir Elam, he's probably Florida's best player this season. 

The cornerback will almost certainly be the first Gator selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, and Elam could be selected in the first half of the first round. 

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