Cleveland Browns Spotlight: No. 26 Abram Elam

Samuel IngroAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 20:  Abram Elam #26 of the Cleveland Browns looks on during their NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 20, 2009 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Browns defeated the Chiefs 41-34. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Abram Elam is a man who defied all odds to make it where he is today. After the tragic deaths of three out of his four siblings, all sadly to shootings, he has battled heart-break and worked hard to arrive in Cleveland finally.

A Palm Beach, FL native, Elam attended Kent State University where he graduated with a degree in marketing. A teammate even then, to a young Joshua Cribbs, Elam put up solid numbers at Kent yet still went undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft.

"Big Play Abe" was undeterred, however, and eventually landed a spot with the Miami Dolphins after the draft concluded. As short-lived as his stint with the Dolphins became, he soon met an even shorter one with the Dallas Cowboys, being waived again on Feb. 2.

One year later, he received yet another opportunity when he was pulled from the free agency pool, this time by the New York Jets. He made a strong impression on head coach Eric Mangini, who gave him the starting nod in eight games his first season.

In 2007, Elam rewarded Mangini's second chance by registering 53 tackles despite the team's losing record. It was enough though for Abe to make his mark and earn another season with New York.

The following season, Elam showed steady improvement, this time starting nine games and picking up 69 tackles, two sacks, and a 92-yard interception for a touchdown. The team had a much better season, but still missed the playoffs with a late-season collapse under Brett Favre.

When 2008 ended, Eric Mangini was fired, and a new head coach Rex Ryan was brought in. With a new coach, came new players, including new starting safety Jim Leonhard. Since Leonhard was a former player of Ryan, it effectively brought an end to Elam's playing chances.

Fortunately for his career however, Mangini wound up with the Cleveland Browns, a team who had a struggling secondary. Upon coming in, he promptly offered a then restricted free agent Elam, a one year offer for $1.5 million. Unfortunately, the offer was matched and the Jets retained his services.

The 2009 Draft must have felt like actually getting drafted finally, when he was paired up with QB Brett Ratliff, DE Kenyon Coleman, a first round pick, and a second round pick for Cleveland's first rounder.

Starting from day one finally, Elam rewarded Mangini yet again by posting a career high in tackles, 91, and picked up a sack and forced fumble. Despite his shaky start in coverage, Elam buckled down the rest of the season under Rob Ryan, and showed noticeable improvement towards the end.

Entering his fifth season in the league, Elam is a rising star in the secondary ranks of the NFL, and each season his productivity has almost doubled. His hard hits and nose for the ball, earned the former undrafted free agent the No. 15 tackle ranking for defensive backs in 2009, easily besting his Jets' replacement Jim Leonhard.

In 2010, Abram Elam is a restricted free agent once again for the Cleveland Browns. New team president Mike Holmgren has already stated that he feels Elam is a bright spot on the team, and is expected to retain him another season.