The Florida Gators had two first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Former Gators tight end Kyle Pitts was selected No. 4 overall, and he is already the No. 4 overall tight end in the NFL. Wide receiver Kadarius Toney was selected by the New York Giants with the 20th pick, and he will be a good weapon for the Giants. If there was one player on Florida that I would bet my money on to be the next first-round pick from Florida, it would be cornerback Kaiir Elam.
Elam, whose cousin is Matt Elam, a 2013 NFL Draft first-round pick, has been receiving a lot of hype all offseason. He has been in the top 10 of two mock drafts, and it is clear that people in the media understand just how good he is and how good he can be.
The last shutdown cornerback to get drafted in the first round from Florida was CJ Henderson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Henderson should have a big year in 2021, and so should Elam.
Elam had an impressive true sophomore season, where he compiled 11 pass break-ups and two interceptions. He has four career interceptions and has shown he can lock down receivers.
His play has gained the attention of ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper. The NFL Draft legend released his Top 25 prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, and Elam was ranked No. 9 by Kiper. That ranking is phenomenal, putting Elam as the 2nd best cornerback on the list, trailing only LSU’s Derek Stingley, ranked No. 2.
Kiper had this to say about Elam being ranked No. 9, “Florida has produced several first-round defensive backs over the years, and Elam could be next. (In fact, his uncle, Matt Elam, was a first-rounder in 2013.) He broke up 11 passes as a sophomore in 2020, and he had five picks over the past two seasons. It’s the ball skills and size that stand out most here, though I want to see more of Elam’s straight-line speed to get a better handle on how high he could be drafted.”
Kiper is correct, Kaiir Elam is a stud!
Elam’s ball skills are excellent, but I think Kiper will be impressed with how well Elam will test at the NFL Combine as well. I think Elam has more than enough speed to be a shutdown cornerback in the NFL.
If Elam can stay healthy and progress further, he will undoubtedly keep the hype of being a top 10 player in the 2022 NFL Draft alive, and deservedly so.