Ever since Brian Dawkins left down, the Eagles have had a huge hole that has not been filled at the safety position. They’ve made multiple attempts to fill this hole via the draft and no prospect has stepped up. If they’d like to try again, Florida safety Matt Elam may be on their radar.
Elam stands at 5-10 and 208 pounds. It’s not overwhelming size but he plays very hard and knows how to deliver a big blow. His speed isn’t overwhelming either, but his 4.54 40-yard dash put him in the top five at this year’s NFL Combine among safeties.
When watching Elam play, you can see that he has a very well-balanced skill set. He has the ability to come down to the line of scrimmage and play in the box but also has the ability to play center field and make plays on the football. When playing around the line of scrimmage, he has shown that he can blitz, play the run, and also play in coverage.
In 2012, Elam accounted for 76 tackles, 11 of which were for loss. He also recorded two sacks, a forced fumble, and four interceptions. He also put up strong numbers the year before, recording 11 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.
You really have to like the versatility Elam has. In coverage, he is able to press and play physical but can also run and keep up with faster receivers. He also has good instincts when playing deep and reads the quarterback pretty well. These instincts and his speed allow him to help over the top when necessary and make plays on the ball.
Elam is a pretty sure tackler and can also hit with power. When he finds himself in one on one situations in the open field, he makes the play more often then he misses. This is more then can be said about a lot of players on the Eagles defense as of late.
Check out this video of Elam against Texas A&M, via DraftBreakdown.com.
A big deciding factor on the Eagles and how high they value the safety position come draft time will be whether or not they pursue a veteran in free agency. You have to believe the team would rather not use a high draft pick on a safety again if they don’t need to. However, it is definitely a position that needs to be addressed so if they don’t do so in free agency, they may very well have to resort to drafting another one.
Elam currently projects to be taken anywhere from the early to mid second round. The Eagles will pick early on in the second round so it seems fairly likely that Elam will be on the board when the Eagles pick. At the same time, they may be able to potentially trade back a few spots if a team is interested to pick up an extra pick and still have the opportunity to draft Elam.
Elam’s versatility will likely be desirable for the Eagles. With the attacking style defense that Chip Kelly says he’s interested in running, Elam would all them to bring a safety down into the box who has the ability to block and can also play well against the run. He also has the ability to come down into the slot and get physical with receivers or tight ends around the line of scrimmage.
If the Eagles are indeed interested in using another high pick on a safety, Elam looks to be the type of guy that could step in and be a good fit.