Matt Elam is one of the hardest hitting safeties in this year's draft class and should help earn him a first-round grade.
Former Florida safety Matt Elam has been projected by many draft experts to be a first-round talent. Elam is a physical player and team leader in the secondary. He is also a very versatile player at the safety position and can be used in many different defensive looks.
Big hits are Elam’s trademark, as he tends to come up with them at crucial times in a game. Also, he is not afraid to get close to the line of scrimmage in run support. He is reliable in coverage and can drop down to cover a slot receiver when needed.
All of these aspects have allowed Elam to be considered one of the best safeties in the 2013 draft class. Here are some highlight videos that detail Elam’s collegiate success.
This is exactly the kind of hit that is synonymous with Elam.
During this play, Elam is not up in the box in run support. Instead, he is deep and is the last line of defense. When he sees a run called, he starts moving in toward the ball-carrier. Once he is close enough, he establishes a great base, lowers his pad level and forces his shoulder into the midsection of the ball-carrier.
In this particular play, the ball-carrier lowers his head as well, causing his helmet to hit Elam’s shoulder, knocking it off. This is an absolute textbook tackle.
Elam is deep as the single-high safety in this play as Florida looks to preserve a win against Tennessee.
The quarterback blatantly stares down his intended target over the middle of the field. Elam notices this and positions himself behind the intended target to prevent the receiver from getting past him.
The ball is overthrown, and since Elam is in perfect position, he comes away with the interception and closes out the game.
This video shows Elam’s responsibility to cover the much larger wide receiver that motions into the slot.
Elam sits deep in coverage due to the 3rd-and-12 position of the offense. Elam keeps his eyes glued to the quarterback while backpedaling to get a read on where the football may be going.
The quarterback is pressured, causing him to lob the ball to Elam’s side of the field. Elam is in perfect position after showing great anticipation and grabs the ball at its highest point to secure the interception. He gains quick possession of the football and holds on to it nicely as he receives a hit from the receiver on his way to the ground.
This is a quick yet great example of what Elam brings to the table for an NFL team.
The beginning of this video shows his high motor in action. He has great closing speed and uses it to track down a receiver near the sideline. Elam does not give up and forces a fumble that is ultimately recovered by Florida.
Elam’s textbook tackling and willingness to move up in run support comes next. He lines up in the box and wraps the ball-carrier up perfectly to nullify any positive gain on the ground.
Lastly, his man-coverage skills go on display as he stays in close pursuit with receivers to knock the ball away. This attribute is even more noticeable when he is needed to do so in the end zone.
This video is yet another example of how well Elam tackles. Also on display here is his ability to shed a block and get after the ball-carrier.
Elam has dropped down to cover the slot receiver on this play. His receiver is a designated blocker for the running back that is about to get a swing pass to the flat.
Immediately, the receiver dives toward Elam in attempt to knock him away from the play. Elam uses his strength to push the receiver away and side-step to avoid further contact. This leaves him in the play and the closest defender to the ball-carrier.
He charges the running back while wrapping up his legs and driving him backward for a textbook tackle. The play goes for no-gain and Elam was the only defender involved.
In this video, Elam is up on the line of scrimmage and will be used specifically to penetrate the line and get into the backfield.
The ball is snapped and Elam surges forward with such burst that he gets into the backfield before the pulling guard can get over and pick him up.
From there, Elam simply puts his textbook tackling on display as he hooks the running back around both ankles and brings him to the ground for a loss on the play.
In the beginning of this video, Elam puts his hard-hitting, textbook tackling on display over and over again. He is even more dangerous of a tackler when he is given momentum before making a hit. This will always make him a feared defender at any level.
Elam’s sheer intensity and ferocity on the field seem unparalleled by any other prospect in the 2013 draft.
Later in the video, Elam’s skills as a pass defender come into play. He is not considered a ball hawk, but has great instincts back at the safety position.
When watching his interceptions, notice that he always seems to be stationary before plucking the ball from the air. This is because he allows himself to get in great position to make a play due to his anticipation.
Elam certainly seems to have every tool to become an immediate factor on an NFL team.