At 5-foot-10, Corn Elder is too small.
With a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, he’s also too slow.
Yet this cornerback from Miami who is both too small and too slow looks like he’s going to be one hell of an NFL player. The perception of Elder feels very similar to another cornerback Miamians are quite familiar with in Brent Grimes.
Lacking the necessary size and speed to play with the big boys on Sunday, the 10-year NFL veteran went undrafted out of Shippensburg. Today, often overshadowed by his volatile wife, Grimes has four Pro Bowls and a second-team All-Pro to his name.
The similarities with Elder are uncanny:
- Grimes is listed at 5-foot-10, weighing 185 pounds.
- Elder is listed at 5-foot-10, weighing 183 pounds.
- Grimes ran a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash.
- Elder ran a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash.
This eerily similar combination of size and speed is below average for cornerbacks, according to NFL standards, making it difficult to envision Elder going in the first two rounds considering the NFL is littered with inside-the-box dopes when it comes to talent evaluation. By the way teams view 40-yard dash times, you’d think the league only allows fly routes.
Even casually honing in on Elder’s play at Miami and you’ll realize he shatters the eye test, offering dynamic tackling in the running game while showing fine playmaking skills when the ball goes airborne. The thing with Elder is the ball rarely ends up in his direction and when it does, his elite instincts are on display.
Look at how quickly he recognizes this screen against North Carolina and blows up the play three yards behind the line of scrimmage — the equivalent of a sack.
Despite racking up just three interceptions over the last two seasons, his production at Miami was eye-opening. That’s in part because of how good he was in coverage, allowing merely 289 yards all of last season, ranking in the Top 30 nationally in yards per cover snap.
Yet it isn’t enough for some teams, which still mysteriously place size requirements on potential prospects.
Here’s an NFC scout’s take on Elder, per NFL.com, who despite saying he’s going to be a good player clarifies he will not end up on his team because of size concerns.
“I love the player, but he’s too small for what we are asked to look for. He falls below our minimum size requirements. But someone else is going to get a good player. I would fight for him if I could.”
The same report indicated “he’s too small to play outside in the pros.” I’m sure there were some college coaches who thought he was too small to play outside in the ACC as well.
Fun fact: He came to Miami as a running back.
An ESPN scouting report also considers his instincts to be top-notch, grading Elder a “1” under Instincts/Recognition on a scale of 1 to 5, with “1′ being exceptional. Yet they also knock him down with a “4” under Height-Weight-Speed.
Considering we know NFL stars come in all different shapes and sizes combined with the fact the draft is a complete crapshoot, why do teams continue to write off prospects who don’t meet certain physical criteria? When will they recognize mental matters just as much as, if not more than, physical?
Size doesn’t matter as some think. Five of Pro Football Focus’ Top 10 graded corners last season check in at under six feet and under 200 pounds. It’s a luxury if your great cornerback happens to stand 6-foot-2, but not a requirement.
Just as we don’t need a tape measure to show Brent Grimes was a hell of a football player (“was” because while he’s still effective, he’s clearly out of his prime), we don’t need a stop watch to prove Elder has the makings of a highly productive corner at the next level.
Elder even graded “significantly higher” than former first-round pick Artie Burns, per PFF, while the two were teammates at Miami in 2015. So why is Elder expected to go several rounds later? Burns measured six-feet tall and pumped out a 4.4 40 time.
Too small and too slow with plenty of standout game tape to show, don’t sleep on Corn Elder, who looks like the next Brent Grimes.