Now that the scouting combine is over, football analysts have a better handle on prospective NFL players, and that means a whole slew of new mock drafts. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah recently updated his mock draft, with the Bengals selecting Florida S Matt Elam this time around.
I view Elam as more of a second-round talent, but his combination of toughness and instincts would be a welcome addition to the Bengals' secondary.
Moving past the frustrating notion that Jeremiah is having the Bengals select a player he believes to be a "second-round talent," the pick does fill a need. Safety is one of the biggest holes in the roster currently, and if we go by the Bengals' recent history of drafting to fill a need in the first round, then it is very likely they will grab one at 21. The problem with Elam, however, is that he is a divisive figure with many draft analysts. Where some see a hard-hitting enforcer-type, others see an overly aggressive, lead-with-the-shoulder-and-whiff style of tackler (Taylor Mays, anyone?). Elam also lacks the ideal size for the position, which leads to him losing during 50/50 jump ball situations with receivers. Despite these concerns, many still believe that Elam could possibly fill the elusive hybrid safety role defenses are always looking for. With his ability to play in the box for run support and his knack for covering slot receivers, he can be a two-way threat that offenses must account for.
Personally, I don't see Elam in stripes anytime soon. His penchant for making plays in the running game is impressive, but the Achilles heel of the Bengals defense over the past few seasons has been covering tight ends, and at only 5'10", Elam simply doesn't stack up. If the Bengals do end up picking a safety in the first round, it will probably be someone else.