The following scouting reports were taken from Pro Football Weekly's 2013 Draft Preview book, which is now on sale. You can order it today through the PFW Store, or by calling 1-800-FOOTBALL (Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT).
SS-FS Matt Elam, #22 (Junior)
PFW Grade: 5.90
Ht: 5-97/8 | Wt: 208 | Sp: 4.47 | Arm: 325/8 | Hand: 9
Notes: His brother, Abraham, is a safety for the Kansas City Chiefs and has played for the Cowboys (2006, 2011), the Jets (2007-08) and the Browns (2009-10). Has had two siblings killed in the same park in Florida — a 12-year-old sister in 1999 and his 14-year-old brother in 2008. Was a five-star prospect, the No. 1 safety in the nation, a Parade All-American and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a Florida prep. Also rushed for over 1,800 yards and scored 27 touchdowns while leading his team to a state title. Was arrested on July 2, 2010, for holding an alcoholic beverage in a parking lot and pleaded no contest while paying a fine and was not suspended. Saw action in all 13 games as a true freshman in the fall, starting on the kickoff coverage and kickoff return units all season, and played a reserve role as the nickel back on defense, managing 22 tackles, one pass breakup and zero interceptions with 11⁄2 tackles for loss and one sack. Arrested again in July ’11 after having alcohol in a plastic cup. Pleaded no contest and agreed to perform community service, pay a fine and six months supervised probation. In the fall, he led the team in tackles for loss, pass breakups and forced fumbles after recording 78-7-2 with 11 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles in 13 starts (10 starts at safety and three at cornerback). Was a first-team All-America selection and the team leader in interceptions in ’12 after recording 76-5-4 with 11 tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble in 13 games (nine starts). Team captain.
Positives: Cut physique. Times and plays fast — flies around the field. Has a presence on the field. Intense and energetic. Has strong and free safety traits. Runs the alley and chops down ballcarriers. Good zone awareness and reactions. Physical, violent tackler — will deliver knockout shots. Has nickel and special-teams experience. Mentally and physically tough. Has NFL bloodlines.
Negatives: Lacks ideal size to match with tight ends. Has man-cover limitations. Can be overaggressive and miss some tackles. Long-term durability could be an issue given his all-out playing style. Has multiple alcohol incidents in his past, and character and stability need to be investigated carefully and will require maintenance.
Summary: A compactly built ball of muscle, Elam is an active, aggressive, instinctive, competitive hybrid safety who brings a unique blend of toughness, versatility and playmaking. Day One starter who adds bite to a secondary and should play at a high level for as long as his body holds up if he can stay out of trouble away from the game.
NFL projection: Top-50 pick.
FS Kenny Vaccaro, #4
PFW Grade: 6.15
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 214 | Sp: 4.62 | Arm: 32¾ | Hand: 10
Notes: Has a son. Last name is pronounced “vuh-CAR-o.” His brother, Kevin, is a safety for the Longhorns. Was an all-state defensive back and lettered in basketball as a Texas prep. Only played in three games as a senior due to a knee injury. Saw action in 12 games as a true freshman in 2009, making 19 tackles, zero tackles for loss and zero sacks as a reserve safety and on special teams. Was arrested in October after a fight during a pickup basketball game and charged with misdemeanor assault. Logged 56-8-1 with four tackles for loss, one forced fumble and a blocked punt against Kansas State in 12 games (four starts in the nickel package and two at strong safety) in ’10 in addition to being named the Special-Teams Player of the Year. Made all 13 starts at strong safety in ’11 and posted 82-8-2 with eight tackles for loss and two sacks. Was arrested May ’12 with two teammates after being asked by police to leave a pizza restaurant and were charged with failure to obey (charges were later dropped). Was the leading tackler for the Longhorns in ’12 after registering 104-5-2 with four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 13 starts at SS.
Positives: Very good hips and movement skill for his size. Has long arms and big hands. Versatile and highly athletic. Excellent leaping ability (38-inch vertical). Loose-hipped and quick-footed. Unique cover skills — can man up receivers in the slot (frequently used). Ranges off the hash like a centerfielder. Drops downhill aggressively, runs the alley and closes fast. Willing striker. Can secure one-on-one tackles. Functions in space and in the box. Effective blitzer. Tough and competitive. Outstanding Bowl performance vs. Kansas State as a high safety.
Negatives: Can iron out his pedal. Lacks elite ball skills — only five interceptions in 32 career starts (was more of a deterrent than a playmaker). Could stand to play with better discipline to leverage the field. Riverboat gambler — drifts in zones and can be baited by savvy quarterbacks. Overly emotional. Maturity, professionalism and accountability need to be investigated (multiple petty arrests). Said ‘no thanks’ to the Senior Bowl and showed up at the Combine out of shape. Focus and commitment to the game need to be examined.
Summary: Excelled as a cover safety, Vaccaro is a smoother than fast, athletic, instinctive, physical defender with an expansive skill set which enables him to do just about anything required of the position. Has potential to be a valuable matchup defender, rangy centerfielder and aggressive box eraser, but needs to land in a veteran, self-policing locker room to expedite his maturation and keep his head on straight. Bulked up after the season and did not look as fluid in Combine drills as he did on tape. Has bust potential after a big payday.
NFL projection: First-round pick.
These scouting reports were taken from Pro Football Weekly's 2013 Draft Preview book, which is now on sale. You can order it today through the PFW Store, or by calling 1-800-FOOTBALL (Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT).