The 2021 college football season may be just past its midpoint, but draft season will be here before we know it.
Since the conclusion of last season, one Florida player has stood out as a top draft option in 2022: cornerback Kaiir Elam. After starting on the outside as a true freshman in 2019 due to injury, Elam became a full-time starter last year and played like one of the best defensive backs in the SEC.
He entered his junior season with high expectations, and while injuries have limited him to just four games, he’s totaled 12 tackles, a pick and four pass breakups in that span.
It hasn’t exactly helped his draft stock a ton (or moved the needle in comparison with top cornerback prospect Derek Singley Jr. from LSU), but he’s still projected as a relatively early first-round pick by ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.
On McShay’s latest draft board, Elam ranks as the No. 11 overall prospect and No. 2 corner behind Stingley (who is McShay’s No. 2 prospect). Here’s the breakdown of Elam.
Elam is instinctive and aggressive. He has loads of top-end speed (he ran track in high school), great closing burst and excellent awareness in coverage, and he is able to play in press, zone or off-man. Elam follows the ball well when it’s in the air, and his on-ball production is solid. He has an interception and three passes broken up this season, and his 13 pass breakups in 2020 tied for the fourth most in the country.
His lack of impressive production this season is almost certainly due to teams avoiding throwing in his direction, as well as the several games he missed. Still, Elam checks all the boxes you look for in a first-round caliber cornerback, and he should hear his name called on the draft’s first night.