2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Elijah Molden

  • Elijah Molden, 5-9/192

  • Cornerback

  • Washington

  • Elijah Molden Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Aggressive defensive back
  • Attacks downhill
  • Willing tackler
  • Good tackling technique
  • Physical gritty defender
  • Instincts
  • Good read-and-react skills
  • Overachiever
  • Could be solid contributor on special teams

  • Weaknesses:
  • Undersized
  • Short
  • Under weight
  • Not especially fast
  • Lacks long speed; could struggle to run with speed receivers
  • Has problems on play action
  • Will have issues with receivers making catches over him
  • Limited to being a slot corner or safety

  • Summary: Over the past decade, Washington has been a factory for good NFL cornerback and safety talent, with head coach Jimmy Lake churning out quality players year in and year out. Lake was previously a defensive backs coach in the NFL with Tampa Bay, and under Chris Peterson, he was a very good defensive coordinator. Lake then landed the head coaching position after Peterson retired. Recent Washington defensive backs products include Desmond Trufant, Marcus Peters, Sidney Jones, Kevin King and Byron Murphy. All of them were first- or second-round picks, and Molden has a shot at going on the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft as well.

    Molden saw his first signifiant playing time in 2018, recording 29 tackles with five passes defended and a forced fumble. As a junior, he broke out by totaling 79 tackles , four interceptions, three forced fumbles and 12 passes defended. Molden recorded 26 tackles and an interception in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Molden's big plays and instincts from an undersized corner/safety have drawn comparisons to Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.

    On the positive side, there is no doubt that Molden has quality instincts. His route recognition is advanced, and he seems to be a step ahead with his ability to get in position to make plays for his defense. Molden is a physical defender who comes downhill hard and is a willing tackler in the ground game. The lack of size doesn't prevent Molden from being a good tackler, as he shows nice fundamentals to wrap up and get ball-carriers to the ground. In college, Molden was an overachiever and figured out a way to make a lot of impactful plays.

    While Molden is an instinctive defender, he faces real skill-set limitations for the NFL. Molden is short, underweight, and does not have special speed to make up for his size. He could lack the fluidity of movement to be a cover corner in the slot as a pro. He also may not have the deep speed that teams like their deep free safeties to possess. With his short stature, Molden is always going to have issues with defenders making catches over him. He can also have issues biting on play-action because he is such an aggressive defender, so he could stand to develop more discipline in the NFL. As a pro, Molden's best fit could come as a safety, but one who has to be used in a way to highlight his strengths and shadow his weaknesses.

    Molden has a range between the second and fourth rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft because there are some teams that have Molden graded in Round 4, but there are media projections of him being selected in Round 2.

    Player Comparison: Ricardo Allen. Some team sources said Molden is similar to Allen. They feel Molden lacks the size and speed to be an every-down slot corner, but he is tough and instinctive, plus has the tackling ability such that he might be able to contribute as an undersized safety, like Allen has in the NFL.



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