October 6, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Matt Elam (22) forces a fumble on LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham (3) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Louisiana State 14-6. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Eric Reid is considered by many to be the top safety prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class. LSU’s star safety has excellent athleticism and coverage instincts at the position.
Not as many people know the man who played against LSU last week, and sealed a victory for his team. The Florida Gator’s safety Matt Elam had a dominant performance and was the best defender on the field.
Elam doesn’t have Reid’s athleticism or quite the coverage skills, but he makes up for it with in-the-box ability and intelligent play. He rarely gets out of position and consistently makes solid plays, even if it means not making a lot of highlight reels. This wasn’t the case Saturday as Elam had 8 tackles, including one tackle for loss, and the game-sealing fumble that lifted the Gators over the Tigers.
Elam is no match for Reid in terms of triangle numbers. Reid is an impressive 6’2”, 212 pounds and should run one of the best 40 times for safeties in this class. Elam is 5’10”, 200 lbs and will probably run an unspectacular time. That didn’t matter this week though as Elam proved to be the most important defensive player in the game and the deciding factor in the victory.