STRENGTHS - Elam is well built which allows him to withstand the type of punishment he dishes out himself. When he commits to the ball carrier he is capable of delivering huge hits and dislodging the ball. He takes good angles of pursuit on run fits and generally puts himself in proper position to make plays. In press coverage he is physical with his with his man and does not allow free releases off the LOS or out of breaks.
WEAKNESSES - Elam is short for his position which makes him an immediate mismatch vs. TEs in coverage. He lacks the long speed needed to consistently cover in space and does not possess the explosiveness needed to break and close effectively from off and zone coverages. He appears to struggle with instincts in coverage as he is consistently a beat late moving toward the ball when not in press man. Against both the run and pass he sacrifices sure tackles for kill shots and does not consistently bring his feet and wrap up.
SUMMARY - Matt Elam has received a ton of attention media and draft analysts because of his numerous splash plays and huge hits, but he will struggle to make a similar impact at the next level. While he has an excellent build, NFL teams will attack him with much larger TEs in coverage, as he lacks the height and length to consistently compete with bigger, stronger targets. He is not an elite athlete, as he lacks the speed and burst to consistently make plays from off the ball, and also struggles to consistently locate the ball or read the QB. If he learns to become a more disciplined tackler he has some starter potential because of his toughness against the run, but undersized, average athletes rarely start at safety in the NFL.