Amid the excitement over the Tennessee Titans trading for big-name wide receiver Julio Jones, and the corresponding dismay over having veteran cornerback Kevin Johnson abruptly retire without warning, Elijah Molden brings great curiosity if not calm to the franchise.
As this NFL team revises its lineup some following an 11-5 season, the former University of Washington defensive back has been called a steal, hailed as maybe the most underrated player on the Titans' roster.
Molden went to Tennessee as the 100th player drafted, taken in the third round, which means providing immediate help as a slot cornerback to the AFC South entry wasn't totally out of the question.
However, the Titans' fan base has grown more and more intrigued with the two-time, All-Pac-12 selection as it digests the feedback coming in.
The fact that he's the son of former NFL cornerback Alex Molden, a 1996 first-round pick and an eight-year league veteran, gave him street cred at the outset.
On NFL draft night, ESPN's Louis Riddick described Molden "an absolute jedi in the slot," which was confirmation enough to a lot of people that the former Husky can play at a high level.
And, finally, Pro Football Focus' complete dissection of the younger Molden's game, with a glowing grade attached to it, sent the Titans' followers into another swoon, thinking the club pulled off a fast one with this draft acquisition.
Here's what PFF's Sam Monson had to say about Molden, likening him to the most underrated player on the Tennessee roster leading into next season:
The No. 35 overall player on PFF's on 2021 NFL Draft Big Board, Elijah Molden lasted until the third round of the draft — pick No. 100 — likely because of how limited he is in terms of role at the next level. Molden is a slot corner only, but that is a valuable and important position today. He generated back-to-back seasons with PFF grades of at least 85.0, while the best PFF coverage grade among players manning the slot for Tennessee last season was 60.9.
Molden further endeared himself to the Nashville faithful by coming in fully prepared to meet with the front office, by showing his grasp of the Titans' scheme and personnel.
"That was one we checked off pretty quickly and said we're all set with this guy," Titans coach Mike Vrabel told the Tennessean. "We asked him about school and he gave such a genuine answer. He said, ‘I don't really love school but I love to learn.’ That really, I think, sunk in. He was just intelligent. Talked ball. He knew about our football team. He had prepared for the interview by watching our football team."
Mini-camp will be Molden's first real chance to show what kind of player he is, though everyone in Tennessee thinks he or she knows already.