As Super Bowl XLVII moves further into the distance and the 2013 NFL Draft draws nearer, predictions are starting to arise about who will end up where. One common thought is that the New England Patriots will draft Florida safety Matt Elam. With the Patriots current situation, he seems like the logical choice of who will be available when the Patriots are on the clock.
The safety position has been a problem for the Patriots in recent years. Prior to the 2012 season, no player drafted by the Patriots seemed to fit the role of a starting safety which is a primary reason why the secondary has struggled over the past few years. Finally last season Devin McCourty, who had been starting at cornerback, seemed to fit the role but the Patriots will likely be looking for another safety in the draft.
Elam, a captain on the Gators in 2012, is projected as a second-round pick. At 5 feet 10 inches and 207 pounds, Elam is a physical safety that will bring the Patriots a toughness factor to that position which they currently lack. What is keeping Elam from jumping up to the first round are his cover skills. He may have trouble covering quick slot receivers at the next level which will hurt his draft position.
This works well for the Patriots who hold the 29th pick in the upcoming draft. The Patriots are just a few pieces from being a Super Bowl championship team and a physical safety is one of those pieces. If Elam doesn’t impress too much in the NFL combine, he should be available when the Patriots go on the clock in April.
The Patriots focused their early picks in 2012 on the defensive line leaving the secondary until later. That meant that most of the impact players had already been taken. With a late first round pick the Patriots will not have an opportunity to select a top safety like Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro but Elam is a player of high character who seems willing to work to become better. That may be the player that can become a mainstay in the Patriots secondary for years to come.