Cornerback is one of the most high-profile positions in football. You’re often on display, especially when it comes to playing man coverage, where you—and only you—are responsible for the success of whatever offensive skill player you’re matched up against. It’s just you and them in a singular battle of wills, which is unique when you’re playing the ultimate team game.
Florida’s Kaiir Elam likes it that way, though. He has the requisite amount of swagger and confidence needed to play the position, along with an appetite for competition. He models his game after one of the greats, Darrelle Revis, who coined the term ‘Revis Island’ in his playing days.
It wasn’t a friendly place for visitors. And if Revis Island was an uncomfortable stay, Kaiir wants ‘Elam Island’ to be even worse for NFL receivers.
“Darrelle Revis is definitely somebody who I modeled my game after,” said Elam. “I feel like I’m a bigger him. But I want to be a lot better than him, though.”
Elam’s nearly 6-foot-2 frame served him well in his time at Florida. He was a productive three-year player, earning time on the field as a true freshman. His sophomore season was his richest, coming in with 11 passes defensed, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery while amassing 39 tackles, one of which went for a loss. His last year at Florida, Elam had 29 tackles, 1.5 for loss, with another two interceptions and five pass breakups.
He’s likely best fit for a zone scheme or press-man at the next level. The latter lends itself to being on that island he’s worked the last few years to build. It also seems to be what he personally enjoys the most.
“I feel like playing on the island is something nobody in the whole entire world would ever experience unless you’re out there,” Elam said. “Like there’s nothing anyone can possibly do to get that same exact feeling and that excitement. For me, a challenge really motivates me and turns my game up to another level. So I feel like being out there, I really get excited being on an island by myself because I feel like I’m better than everybody I play against. I’m not just being cocky or arrogant. I know the work I put in to really excel and go out there and dominate.”
Elam was set up for success from a very early age. Though it’s true the ‘island’ experience is unique to corners and defensive backs, Elam was raised with two of them. His father played seven years in the NFL at safety. His uncle, Matt Elam, was a first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens. It means Kaiir has essentially been preparing for this next step his whole life.
“I’m chasing self-improvement on a daily basis,” he said. “I feel like my preparation to the game is unmatched.”
Unmatched, like what he hopes ‘Elam Island’ to be.
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