In today’s pass-happy NFL, you can never have too many cornerbacks who cover effectively from multiple spots on the field.
The Las Vegas Raiders have worked to build up young talent in their secondary, but the results have been hit or miss as they wait for that talent to mature.
They’ll also have some turnover next season, with Nevin Lawson being a free agent and Lamarcus Joyner a potential cut candidate.
That’s what makes Elijah Molden of Washington a name to watch once the second round begins.
The son of former NFL defensive back Alex Molden, Elijah comes in as maybe the best specialist in the draft.
A specialist in that when it comes to playing the position of slot cornerback, Molden has been the best at that in college football the last two seasons.
Both in 2019 and in a smaller sample in 2020, he was ranked by Pro Football Focus (PFF) as one of the best defensive backs in the nation.
Molden's breakout 2019 season saw him lead the Pac-12 in interceptions, passes defended, and forced fumbles on the way to being a first-team All-Pac-12 selection.
He’s a natural playmaker who also plays with a physical edge as a tackler, having a career-high 79 tackles in 2019 with 5.5 being for a loss.
The biggest questions will have to do with his size and versatility.
At only 5-10 and 190 pounds, Molden doesn’t bring the prototypical size that teams would want out of a boundary corner.
He’s also only ever played in the slot during his time at Washington.
The Huskies did experiment with him at free safety in their final game, but it’s hard to say he could play there with so little experience.
Even still, for a team that needs better play in the slot, Molden is tailor-made to step in and provide an immediate impact.
Especially if they cut Joyner, the Raiders don’t have a natural successor to take over the slot.
That combined with their need for defensive playmakers could make Molden an attractive target in the second or third rounds.
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