Elijah Molden Draft Profile
Elijah Molden is being looked at as the best slot corner in this year’s draft and his versatility makes him one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2021 class. In a league where Tyreek Hill and Cole Beasley are tearing up defenses from the slot, teams are desperately looking for a slot corner. Similar to Isaiah Simmons from last year, Molden is the type of defender who can get physical with tight ends yet run with speedy slot receivers and running backs. In order to stop power house offenses like the Chiefs and the Bills, you need players who are unselfish and willing to do it all. That is why NFL head coaches are going to fall in love with Molden.
First and foremost, Molden’s greatest strength is his versatility. At the University of Washington, Molden was used all over the defense. From free safety to strong safety to nickel, Molden can flourish at every position in the secondary; that is what makes him such an enticing player. In 2020, there was no better defensive back than Molden in the PAC-12. Despite only playing four games, Molden was able to stand out on film. Two traits that I really like about Molden is his fearlessness and physicality. When guarding a tight end, doesn’t get pushed around, he actually fights back. No matter who’s running at Molden, he is always going to tackle head first with all of his willpower. He may get pushed down 100 times, but he always gets back up. He’s got heart and that’s what coaches care about. When playing the pass, Molden is at his best in off man coverage. His back pedal is very smooth and it allows him to move all over the field in a controlled way. His fearlessness also comes out when covering the seam. He isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and blow a tight end up. Molden’s scrappiness and versatility will get him drafted early on day two and he will primarily be used as a nickel in the NFL.
While he is a fearless tackler, he doesn’t always have great tackling form. He is naturally low, but his head is in the dirt and he doesn’t alway wrap up. This results in a lot of missed tackles and arm tackles. Molden also takes a lot of poor tackling angles which results in the offense pulling together a few extra yards. While he is a pretty reliable DB in coverage, there are times where is ankles get snatched against a good release or when trying to make a tackle. Even though he’s got a great heart, there are also plays where Molden looks absolutely lost on the field. While Molden is an extremely versatile player, sometimes he can be a liability for the defense.
A lot of teams, especially in the AFC, need a really good slot corner. The Steelers just lost Mike Hilton who wasn’t just a great nickel, but a phenomenal rusher. If Molden were to get drafted by the Steelers, he’d be in the perfect position to succeed and used to his highest potential. The Bills had no answers for the Chiefs in the title game last year, by drafting Molden they get a defensive back who can get physical with Travis Kelce and run with Hill. The Bills desperately need a slot corner. Robert Saleh needs a player similar to K’Waun Williams in his defense and the Lions just lost Justin Coleman. When watching Molden, a player that reminded me of his game is DJ Reed for the Seattle Seahawks. A lot of teams need a really good slot corner, so much so that he could even get drafted in the late first round. I think Molden is being a little over hyped but I see why teams value him.
Eyes + Instincts 7.25/10
Ball Skills 5/8
Size + Speed 5/7
Man Coverage 4/5
Zone Coverage 3.5/5
Final Rating: 77
Pro Comparison: DJ Reed
Team Fits: Steelers, Bills, Lions, Jets
Draft Ranking: Third Round Pick
Draft Projection: Mid Second Round Pick