2013 Draft Prospect Profile: Matt Elam

Welcome to our 2013 Draft Prospect Profile series, written by Rob Quinn. Rob is putting together quick, digestible summaries for highly publicized discussed prospects, prospects that interest him, and prospects that interest YOU.

If there’s someone out there who has piqued your interest and you want to know a little but more about him before April rolls around, get at Rob and request he put a profile together. You can email him at RQUINN619@billsmafia.com with a request.

The series isn’t Bills-centric necessarily; however, when the occasion calls for it, Rob will include thoughts on how a player might impact the Bills were they to draft him. But overall, the goal is to educate you on some of the names you’ll hear called in April.

Matt Elam: S, Florida (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Matt Elam: S, Florida (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Matt Elam
5’10” 202 lbs
Florida Gators

Matt Elam is a versatile, play-making safety for the Florida Gators. He is an old-school, in the box, physical defensive back. Elam is one of the most highly touted safeties in the 2013 draft class, and is a personal favorite of mine. In his three seasons with the Gators, Elam’s racked up 176 tackles, 22.5 of which came for a loss. He’s intercepted six passes, recorded five sacks, defended 13 passes, and forced three fumbles. Elam will fit very well in a scheme that asks him to play in the box and play physically.

The Good
Elam, while known for his devastating hitting power, is also a very scheme-versatile player. At Florida, he’s lined up at strong safety, free safety, played single-high, nickel cornerback, and was even asked to line up at outside linebacker in pass rushing situations. Elam is an excellent run defender, and excels in covering the short-to-intermediate zones and flats. He’s old school, and opposing wide receivers fear him. He wasn’t asked to blitz often, but he showed above-average skills rushing the passer. He’s competitive and intense on the field, and rallies his team around him.

The Bad
Elam has average athleticism, and his ability to cover the pass at the next level is in question. He far too often goes to deliver powerful hits rather than make tackles, which can result in some missed opportunities. His tackling skills are average, and will need to significantly improve in the National Football League. His speed is average, and he may not be able to keep pace with slot receivers or speedy tight ends.

How He Impacts The Bills
Buffalo Bills’ safety George Wilson is nearing the end of his playing career, and Da’Norris Searcy hasn’t proved that he’s capable of a full-time starting role. Elam is a physical defender, and playing the run is his strength, something the Bills desperately need. He brings physicality and toughness to the defense that the team lacks, and has no character concerns to point to. If the Bills didn’t have more pressing needs elsewhere, Elam would be a highly targeted player for the team.

NFL Player Comparison
Bernard Pollard/Quintin Mikell

Projected Draft Position
Second Round