Elijah Molden - CB, Washington
By the numbers:
5'10", 190 pounds.
2020: 26 tackles (1.0 for loss), one pass broken up and one interception in four games played. 2019: 79 tackles (5.5 for loss), 12 passes broken up and four interceptions in 13 games played.
All-Pac-12 First Team in 2019 and 2020.
Elijah Molden is an extremely bright prospect, possessing the brain and football IQ to have great success in the NFL. He has a quick processor, capable of diagnosing the play presnap and then remaining one move ahead of the offense during the action. He reacts quickly with good awareness and rarely seems flustered. His maturity and understanding of route concepts and alignments are among the best in this year's cornerback class.
Molden was proficient in both zone and man coverage at Washington. His eye discipline is terrific and he maintains good spacing in zone. He's a sticky assignment and fluid mover in man who also plays with plus physicality for a player his size. He closes quickly and plays the ball, boasting quality ball skills that will translate well to the next level. Because of his elite profile in zone and willingness to make an effort in run defense — among other reasons — Molden has the versatility to play safety as well.
This is far from a red flag, but Molden's athletic profile isn't great. He has very quick feet and the ability to change directions quickly, although his long speed is just decent. He excels in enough other areas to minimize this, though. It shouldn't limit him much as a pro.
Molden's size does likely prohibit him from playing much, if at all, on the outside in the NFL. It also affects him in run support, where he simply isn't big or strong enough to make an impact sometimes or overcompensates by trying to make big hits. Teams can work around this, as he's so good that it doesn't hurt him much. Against the rare "big slot," though, Molden may be outmatched.
How Molden fits with the Chiefs:
Despite Charvarius Ward having a second-round tender placed on him, the state of the Chiefs' cornerback situation is still murky. Bashaud Breeland's future is up in the air and with that, L'Jarius Sneed may be forced to take his place. If that's the case, Molden makes perfect sense as a long-term and ideal solution as a nickel cornerback. He's smart enough to play immediately and find success, as well as possibly serving as a safety if needed. He's a very good fit with what the Chiefs would need from a nickel defensive back.
Molden has a high floor and a clear path to an instant role in the NFL. He's intelligent and athletic enough to thrive, so long as he doesn't get left out to dry on the outside. As an early impact slot cornerback who also has desirable traits for a safety, Molden would be a great option for a ton of teams. He grades out as a second-round pick who should have his presence felt immediately as a rookie.