Minnesota Vikings NFL Draft Profile: CB Kaiir Elam

One of the Minnesota Vikings’ biggest needs heading into this offseason is at the cornerback position. This need has become even more dire with the recent release of Bashaud Breeland. The only CBs returning that have taken substantial snaps this year for Minnesota are Cam Dantzler and Kris Boyd, both of whom have had their ups and downs in 2021.

If the Vikings end up in the top-15 of the 2022 draft, they could have their pick of Andrew Booth Jr. or Ahmad Gardner. However, this is a team that is still in the thick of a playoff hunt and trying to win games. If they continue to do so, they will likely take a tumble down the draft order. That’s where Kaiir Elam could enter the mix. Elam looks to be one of the first five cornerbacks taken in 2022, and his stock seems to be trending upwards every week. Here’s a breakdown of what the Vikings could be getting by taking him.

Elam’s Career Stats:

  • 2019 (8 games): 10 tackles (8 solo), 4 PDs, 2 INTs
  • 2020 (12 games): 39 tackles (28 solo), 1 TFL, 11 PDs, 2 INTs, 1 FR
  • 2021 (9 games): 27 tackles (15 solo), 1.5 TFLs, 5 PDs, 1 INT

Strengths

Kaiir Elam showed promise as a recruit and got to put his talents on full display as a freshman starter. The Florida Gator has terrific length at 6’2, and he hits hard with all 193 pounds of his frame. Elam thrives in press coverage, imposing his will against smaller receivers on the line of scrimmage. He gets a little too handsy at times, but overall his speed, length, and athleticism allow him to dominate in coverage.

Florida has played him in a variety of different coverage schemes, but in addition to press man, his biggest strength comes in zone coverage. This allows him to use his instincts to watch the action out of the backfield and make a play on the ball.

Weaknesses

No prospect is without his weaknesses, but some of Kaiir Elam’s are frustrating. As aforementioned, he gets a little handsy with his coverage, especially at the top of routes. This leads to the occasional unnecessary defensive holding or pass interference call.

In addition to some questionable penalty tendencies, his tackling comes and goes. It’s something that is going to need to be shored up by his first NFL defensive coordinator. It’s something he’s worked on improving throughout his collegiate career though, so it shouldn’t have NFL teams too concerned. That said, there are plenty of lowlights early in his Florida career.

Vikings Fit

This is a clear need for the Minnesota Vikings. This team has needs all throughout the secondary following 2021, and they will likely address them in a loaded 2022 draft class. The only question is where they will address it. If the team falls lower in the first round and is unable to select from the group of three at the top (Derek Stingley Jr., Andrew Booth Jr., Ahmad Gardner), they may elect to wait until the second or even third round.

That said, they desperately need another starting caliber outside corner, and Kaiir Elam fits that bill. Some of his concerning tendencies are ones that Vikings fans may have PTSD from reading again, but they should not overlook the great talent that Elam is. His speed, length, and athleticism are terrific in coverage, and he has the promise of a terrific NFL cornerback.