2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Kaiir Elam

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Kaiir Elam

by December 8, 2021 5 comments

This year’s cornerback class is absolutely loaded. Since, Derek Stingley Jr.’s foot injury during the college football regular season, the former top corner in the class has seen his stock fall a tad and many other players are vying to grab that top spot. One of these guys is Kaiir Elam. Elam is an uber-athletic cornerback out of Florida and has one of the highest upsides in this entire draft class. The former top-50 recruit has absurd length which causes massive intrigue for NFL teams. Can Elam be the top corner selected in this draft? Let’s find out.

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

Player Bio

Name: Kaiir Elam

Jersey: No. 5

Position: Cornerback

School: Florida

Class: Junior 

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 196 lbs

Games Watched: Alabama (2021), Tennessee (2021), Alabama (2020), Virginia (2019)

Major Injury History: None

Player Breakdown

Man Coverage (13/15)

Elam is pretty strong in man coverage. Obviously, man coverage is always a two-fold process between being off and on but it’s pretty clear Elam is better on and up in the receiver’s face. When off, Elam isn’t bad by any means but he’s not able to use his strength and the strong points of his pure athleticism to dominate defenders. Another note we’ll make is that Elam can be a little grabby at times but this has sort of flattened out as he’s aged.

Elam’s most impressive performance in man coverage (out of the many there are) was against Alabama’s John Metchie this year. Metchie is a top receiver in college football and he could not get going at all against Elam. We’ll say this throughout the report, Elam has the potential to be great here because of the length and athleticism.

Zone Coverage (13/15)

Another very solid area for Elam. He’s impressive because of the way in which he can close onto the ball in flight. Elam’s size allows him to shut down passing lanes and he’s able to read his zone properly most times. The one knock is when he’s tasked with dropping into deep zones. Elam tends to back too far up in deep zones, allowing receivers to just sit in on him and even the fastest corner in the world can’t close on that. This can be seen in both Alabama games and there was a slight instance of it in the Virginia game back when he was a freshman.

Instincts (9.5/10)

A near-perfect score in what are some of the best instincts from any corner in this draft. Elam’s instincts have been on full display since he started getting reps. He’s so fast to read where the quarterback is going with the ball and fly right to the receiver. Has he gotten burnt one or two times because of an over-aggression? Sure, but, no corner doesn’t and it’s a joy to watch Elam breakdown what’s going on mid-play

Ball Skills (9.25/10)

This is a really hard section to judge. Elam’s interceptions and plays on the ball have decreased throughout his career but there’s insane potential here. In his career, Elam has six interceptions and a whopping 20 passes defended. Three of these interceptions came in 2019, though but he had 11 deflections last year and the flashes he shows are incredible. Elam is able to get his body up so high to make a play and can control his agility in all directions, allowing him to make nearly any play necessary.

Press/ Physicality (8.5/10)

Elam is a very strong corner and uses that to his advantage. We mentioned earlier how he’s very proficient in press and we’ll get into it a little more here. Elam applies his hands quickly, most of the time. There were a couple of reps, including one against Metchie, where he was a tad late and got his hands swiped down. Other than this, Elam does not jump too quickly on any receiver’s releases and can flip from press to route-mirroring effortlessly.

Long Speed (8.25/10)

This is probably Elam’s weakest area. For as great as an athlete he is, long speed has lacked at times but it’s got to be true long speed. In the more intermediate areas, Elam is still great but when it extends to the deep field he can fall behind just a step, which in the NFL can be costly. Now, sideline to sideline long speed Elam has been very good but there’s just a little too many times where a receiver gets past him on the deep ball.

Tackling/ Run Support (8.5/10)

Potential, potential, and more potential. It’s not that Elam hasn’t shown great ability here on film but just look at the length, physicality, and closing speed and you’ll see a player who can give a team so much in the run-stuff game. You’ll see Elam is pretty crafty when shedding a receiver’s block and has fared well throughout his career in this area. If he got involved just a tad more Elam could get into that 9-10, really elite range but the upside is certainly there.

Athleticism (9.75/10)

Well, here we go. These last three traits are Elam’s best by far and the reason he is the player he is. The .25 point knock on Elam’s athleticism is because of the long speed is nothing absurd (although it’s still very good). Elam can close on a receiver, or ball carrier, insanely well and there are countless examples in every game watched. Expect Elam to put up great numbers at the combine, especially on the vertical jump where he can really get up.

Change of Direction (5/5)

This is far and away Elam’s best trait. When we break down change of direction we focus specifically on a corner’s hips and Elam’s hip movement is generational. The way he’s able to flip hips, change momentum and continue to mirror a route are unmatched. Change of direction is the reason why scouts and NFL teams alike love Elam and why he’ll be selected around the top-10

Length (5/5)

Elite length is just a given for Elam. The 6’3″ height, paired with the long arms give Elam natural length but length that he knows how to control and use. There are countless times where Elam gets his arms up to really just disrupt a passing lane he’s working in, even if he’s bit by the receiver. While it is hard to beat Elam initially, you have to really get by him to get open because he can deflect the ball better than almost every corner in this class due to his length. Elam is also able to use his length to wrap up ball carriers very easily. 

Player Summary

Elam takes us through a very exciting ride in his game film. Athleticism is abundant, potential is off the charts, and length just puts you in awe. There’s so much to this player’s game that can be tweaked just a tad to really get him going in the NFL and the improvement since Elam’s freshmen year shows that these tweaks can be made to boost him to the top-tier of NFL corners. Elam can be selected by teams in desperate need of corners or one that has some depth for Elam to develop behind. All in all, however, Elam’s talent warrants him a top 10 pick in this year’s draft. 

Rookie Projection: Starting Outside Cornerback

Third-Year Projection: Potential Top-7 Cornerback

Final Grade (89.75/100): Potential Top-10 Pick

Player Comp: C.J. Henderson


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Main Image Credit: https://www.gatorcountry.com/feature/elam-named-to-thorpe-award-watch-list/

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