Gator defensive back vaults into the top 5 of this 2022 mock draft

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Florida’s secondary may have been one of its biggest weaknesses during the 2020 season, but the cornerback group specifically is poised to enter 2021 as one of the team’s strengths. It’s led by junior Kaiir Elam, who became a full-time starter last season after seeing several starts due to injury as a true freshman.

As Elam approaches what will likely be his final college season, he’s expected to be one of the top defensive players with college football. Alongside LSU‘s Derek Stingley Jr., he’s considered a top-two cornerback in the land.

Many analysts project that Elam will be a first-round pick in 2020, but many of them have Stingley being selected before him. This latest mock draft from Pro Football Network’s Cam Mellor is one of the few exceptions, and it’s also the highest draft projection Elam has received to date.

Mellor slots him to the New York Jets with the fourth-overall pick, which would make him the second-straight Gators player to be drafted at No. 4 after the Atlanta Falcons took Kyle Pitts in that spot this year.

A surprise pick to some, sure, but not to others. Kaiir Elam has every bit of the ability of his SEC counterpart in Derek Stingley. Unfortunately for Elam, he never got the name-brand recognition of a Heisman Trophy-winning season from his quarterback to give him that national fame.

While Stingley got cooked by Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith during their famed showdown, Elam more than held his own against Alabama a year ago, specifically against Smith. Elam has terrific size at 6’2″, 195 pounds, as well as incredible ball skills. By year’s end, he should have nearly 30 starts under his belt. He will be one of the more experienced corners in this class, as well as the bloodline of being the nephew of former NFL first-round pick Matt Elam.

It’s lofty for the Gators cornerback, but his prowess on the field can absolutely lift him to this draft stature.

Coming off a season in which he netted 39 tackles and tied for first on the team in interceptions with two (while also leading the team in pass breakups with 11), Elam is expected to do big things on a Florida defense that struggled mightily against elite offenses in 2020.

The nephew of former Gators and NFL safety Matt Elam, the younger Elam will look to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and secure a first-round selection after the conclusion of his college career.

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