2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Kaiir Elam
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Florida has the nickname of "DB U" because of the plethora of quality cornerback prospects the program has produced for the NFL, and Elam will continue that tradition in the 2022 NFL Draft. As a freshman in 2019, Elam made an immediate impact with three interceptions and four passes defended despite being a rotational player. In 2020 and 2021, Elam was Florida's best player on defense, doing did an excellent job against receivers. As a sophomore, Elam produced 39 tackles, two interceptions and 11 passes broken up. In 2021, Elam played really well to open the season, including an impressive performance against Alabama. After missing a few games with an injury, Elam has returned to the field and closed out the season playing well, totaling 27 tackles with three passes broken up and an interception over his 10 games.
Elam has the skill set to be a starting outside cornerback at the next level, including impressive instincts and good ball skills. He also has soft hands, making natural catches and playing the ball extremely well. Elam possesses ideal height and length to battle big receivers. While is willing to jam them at the line, he is a poor tackler and somewhat soft. He also grabs way too much on receivers and will have to improve on that to avoid painful penalties as a pro.
Being so instinctive allows Elam to thrive in zone coverage, and he is adept at picking up receivers who enter his territory. While Elam isn't overly twitchy or fast, he does a nice job of running the route to prevent separation when in man coverage. Elam also is a disciplined corner who does not bite on double moves. He is not a gambler who sells out for interceptions and gives up an equal number of big plays. Elam is steady and reliable in coverage. Team sources feel he could be better off going to a team that plays a lot of zone coverage.
While Elam ran faster than teams expected at the combine, he does not play that fast and multiple team sources are concerned about matching him up on NFL speed receivers. They worry he won't be able to carry verticals, which is a big reason why he could end up being a second-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Here are the comments of an area scout, "I like his size and he's a good player, but the speed issue is something that can't be coached or fixed so I graded him in the second. He could go in the first round to the right system. I think he has to play a lot of zone to protect him versus speed."
Multiple team sources believe Elam is a prospect for Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft. He probably will be a second-round pick, but he could sneak into the bottom of Round 1.
Player Comparison: Brian Kelly. Elam compared well with former Buccaneers cornerback Brian Kelly. Like Elam, Kelly was a competitor who did a nice job of preventing separation while thriving as a zone corner. Kelly, hoewver, was very physical and a good tackler, while Elam must improve his tackling and physicality for the NFL. Kelly was a second-round pick in his draft class and was a key contributor to the 2002 Tampa Bay defense that was one of the top defenses in league history and led the franchise to a Super Bowl. In the NFL, Elam could be a corner similar to Kelly.
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