Gators in the NFL Draft: Matt Elam
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 9:43 p.m.
Round 1: 7-10:30 p.m. Thursday, ESPN and NFL Network
Rounds 2-3: 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN (ESPN2 at 7 p.m.) and NFL Network.
Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, ESPN (ESPN2 at 6 p.m.) and NFL Network
Position: Strong safety
Weight: 208 pounds
Projected round: Late in the first or early in the second.
Elam played in 39 games at Florida, starting 26. For his career, he recorded 176 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 pass breakups, six interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. In 2012, he was named first-team All-American by AP, only the second safety in school history to be so honored. He was a five-star prospect coming out of Palm Beach Dwyer High School.
At the NFL Combine, Elam ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds, bench-pressed 225 pounds 17 times, had a vertical jump of 35.5 inches and a broad jump of 118 inches.
Elam is a tough, physical safety who makes a lot of plays around the line of scrimmage. He's sometimes mistaken for a small linebacker the way he makes plays, blitzing quarterbacks and stuffing the run. He's also fast enough and athletic enough to cover slot receivers in man-to-man situations. He's an instinctive player who seems to have a great feel for the game. He's a playmaker. His forced fumble in the second half of UF's win over LSU this past season was a game-changing moment. He's a versatile player who can play both safety positions.
At only 5-10, he could have some problems matching up against taller receivers in the NFL. Some scouts and analysts have also pointed out that Elam needs to be more consistent and play aggressively on every down instead of dialing it back at times in games. Elam is a big hitter who sometimes seems to focus too much on making monster hits instead of just making a sure tackle. He does not have top-end speed for an NFL safety.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
“Will (Muschamp) has so many good things to say about him. You can tell on tape he's extremely competitive. It shows up on tape, as well as with the other guys. Very impressive man. There's a lot of good safeties out there, and I'm sure he'll get his chance in (the draft) to show what he's made of.” — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley
“Not a big safety, but plays without fear and creates havoc at the line of scrimmage. Good speed, can cover the slot and make plays and big hits in the secondary. A useful blitzer. Really flies to the ball, but needs to stay engaged in the action all the time. A good shot to go in Round 1.” — ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
“He's what everybody is looking for right now. A safety that can cover, can go down and guard the fourth receiver, can play nickel, play dime and cover the deep part of the field. He's interchangeable. In some systems, he may be a corner. He's definitely talented, and his film speaks for itself.” — Abe Elam, Matt's brother, who is starting safety for the Kansas City Chiefs
“It's been a very tough process. You just go day-by-day and get yourself fired up by going to the gym. You just go out there and work and let everything else happen by itself and just wait for the draft. Whatever team I go to, it will be a blessing.” — Matt Elam