2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Elijah Molden

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Elijah Molden

by February 17, 2021 1 comment

Mel Kiper Jr. gem alert! Elijah Molden has been haunting the Pac-12 since his true freshman year. No matter the position he plays, Molden can make a noticeable impact on the field. In man coverage, zone coverage, press coverage of any kind, or in the run game, he shows up big time. With the need for cheap corners especially this season, the demand is greater than ever. 

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: Elijah Molden

Jersey: #3

Position: Slot/Nickel Cornerback/Safety

School: Washington

Class: Senior 

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 190 lbs

Man Coverage (8.75/10) 

Molden brings gorilla glue man coverage. There is zero separation allowed. His only problem is that he tends to get too sticky with big guys, who can throw him off of them (this will be discussed shortly). Zero complaints here. Quick twitch, great route recognition, and solid ball skills all lead to an amazing man coverage corner. Note: on this scale 5/10 is average for a prospect, 10/10 is for the greatest of all time.

Zone Coverage (9.0/10) 

Molden has the force. He can sense everything going on behind him (which will be talked about again shortly). There may not be a better zone corner in any draft thus far with how well Molden baits quarterbacks into making stupid throws.

Press (8.0/10) 

For his size, Molden is amazing at press. Against Stanford (his worst game of the year, according to PFF), he dealt with wide receivers that were over half a foot (probably 35 lbs heavier) taller than he was. Molden’s press coverage reps against those targets were insane for his size; however, he did get thrown aside by one, not to mention getting plowed on a pick slant. To sum it up, this guy is the real deal (unless he goes up against a super physical tight end).

Instincts (8.75/10) 

This rating is already guaranteed to be extremely high when he is known as “the coach on the field” by his peers. The IQ of Molden is beyond most players in this draft, if not all drafts. He can bait almost any quarterback into throwing horrible passes, which will transfer into the NFL. His instincts lack slightly in the run game on pursuit angles, but that is his only fault. His final ratings are 4.9/5 for pass instincts, 3.85/5 for the run. 

Run Defense (7.0/10) 

Molden has played strong and free safety for a few games for the Washington Huskies. For a safety, his run skills are about par. For a slot/nickel cornerback, Molden is amazing in the run game. His main issue lies in his pursuit angles: his initial angles are usually very off. This said, his adjustment angles are very solid. If he can work on making the right choice the first time, watch out. His tackling is usually superb for his position: solid form, good enough wrapping up, and good balance are all positives. He does, however, bunny hop (lots of Washington players do) before tackling to ensure form. This may be taken advantage of by elite movers as well as it may be a problem generating hit power on the goal line. His bunny hops also may hurt his pursuit angles. When engaged with blocks, Molden seals the edge and sheds surprisingly well. 

Ball Skills (7.25/10) 

In the footage watched, there was few targets Molden’s way. Molden did, however, show great ball skills on those reps. Ball tracking does not seem to be a problem for the man who can bait quarterbacks better than catfishers bait men on dating sites. This said, he does have a 65% completion percentage when targeted, but it usually is for short yardage. This stat saw a large jump this year, where Molden allowed an average of 16 yards/ game, in contrast to 47 yards/ game in his 2019 breakout season.

Straight Line Speed (6.25/10) 

For once there is something not extremely special about Molden. His speed is adequate, but this is why he plays slot and safety: he will get burned on the outside. This is also why Molden matches up well against tight ends and large slot wide receivers so well. He does not need to speed up or slow down to compensate for their movement. This allows him to be fluid in his pass reps. This said, his speed is not bad by any stretch: it is just not good enough to compete on the outside.

Short Area Burst (7.75/10) 

This category saves Molden big time. If he had to rely on speed and not burst, he would not profile well as a slot or nickel corner. Having such a great burst gives Molden the chance to cover any slot weapon, small or large, with extreme efficiency. This also is why he can follow routes well: he can adjust his movement very easily and fluidly with bursts of speed. Molden’s burst also is a critical aspect of his baiting tactics.

Positional Versatility (7.0/10) 

Molden profiles as a slot or nickel cornerback. This said he can play safety (both strong and free) with enough efficiency to get through a short-term injury to a starter. His speed hinders him on the outside, and his size hinders him from truly being able to press aggressive tight ends, but Molden certainly can do almost anything else he wants.

Competitive Toughness (5/5) 

Even when the play is on the other side of the field, Molden gives his all. He has such high respect on the team. They all recognize his never-ending motor.   

Injury (5/5)

The injury sheet is clean for Molden.

Player Summary 

Watch out. Molden is by far one of the sneakiest steals in this draft. If it were not for the fact that he cannot play boundary corner, Molden could be top 10. Yes, you heard that right. With teams like the 49ers, the Lions, and the Steelers (to name a few) that need a slot/ nickel corner, do not be surprised to see this man’s name called day 1. If Molden can find a way to increase his hit power and limit his bunny hopping, there may not be a corner better than him in this class regardless of their role.

Final Grade (79.75/100): Mid First Round

Player Comp: (less powerful) Tyrann Mathieu

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