The Gators could have one of the SEC’s best outside cornerback duos in 2021

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What can I possibly write about the Gators’ defense last season that isn’t already common knowledge? The unit was a jumbled mess, with players totally missing assignments and routinely underperforming their physical talents to a considerable degree. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is still in place, but there needed to be a scapegoat and several assistants were dismissed. There’s almost nowhere to go but up.

Particularly in the cornerbacks room, there’s reason to believe that the level of production will be better by a wide margin. In fact, their duo of outside cornerbacks could be one of the best pairings in the SEC.

The veteran, Kaiir Elam, is getting a lot of buzz in early mock drafts as a mid-first-round talent. In the recent CBS Sports mock draft by Josh Edwards, he’s picked by the Jets with the 21st overall selection. “Kaiir Elam stands out as a player with the ability to jump into the first-round conversation,” said Edwards about the selection.

Elam is long and strong, making him a natural fit in the draft for a team who likes to run press-man coverage. At the collegiate level, he’s plenty talented enough to shut down to disrupt most teams’ top receiving option. His background as a wide receiver also affords him better ball skills than many man coverage corners who have his level of physicality.

NEXT: This standout freshman has the other corner covered

Andrew Ivins, 247Sports

On the other side of the gridiron, standout freshman Jason Marshall Jr. is the frontrunner for reps squaring off against opposing Z receiver. He was pegged as the second-best corner in the 2021 recruiting class by 247Sports, who (unsurprisingly) also named him the Gators’ breakout freshman candidate.

He’s fast and fluid, with impressively smooth footwork for a young guy. That makes him a pretty sticky corner who can mirror routes and interrupt the timing of a downfield route. He impressed his future teammates at spring camp and earned a shoutout from Trey Dean III as the best performer among incoming freshman.

With their powers combined, Elam and Marshall Jr. have the potential to be the best duo of cornerbacks in the conference. Of course, that would hinge on massively improved communication the backfield. One has to imagine that will be a focal point of defensive backs coaching at Florida through the coming months.

The resulting trust that was missing from last year’s squad will let the team’s stars do their thing and blow away the competition.

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