Trae Elston, a highly underrated safety prospect out of Ole Miss, is one of 19 undrafted rookie free agents for the New Orleans Saints. Elston could make the case for a roster spot when the 2016 season kicks off in September.
Being overlooked by the National Media seems to happen every year to a couple of prospects, and this year it was Trae Elston’s turn. He put up outstanding numbers in his last year at Ole Miss with 70 tackles. Five of those were behind the line of scrimmage. He also added four interceptions and 14 passes defended. That is fairly impressive for any player, and especially for one that plays against the best competition college football has to offer in the SEC.
Elston’s performance led to an All-American selection. However, even after his strong season he wasn’t invited to the Senior Bowl or the NFL Combine. Therefore, Elston used Ole Miss Pro Day to create attention. He didn’t disappoint. He ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash, showing everyone in attendance that not only does he have the competitiveness and stats, but also the athletic ability to cover most of the field.
Players with the ability to secure the backfield are some of the most valuable in today’s game. Elston showed he can be that guy, both on tape and in drills.
The only knock on Elston is his ability to cover receivers 1-on-1. He looks stiff and struggles to twist his hips, allowing the receiver to get open. When playing deep in coverage, Elston will get caught ball watching at times, losing awareness of where the receivers are. Play-action plays is where his eagerness to get to the ball carrier can hurt him.
However, the tape tells all that you need to know about one of the key pieces on the Rebels defense.
Elston doesn’t feature the prototypical size desired at the safety position, but he makes up for that in pure feistiness. If he isn’t getting his hands on the ball, then you can be certain that he will be around it to lay the big hit or make the sure tackle. He is a fierce competitor and doesn’t back down from anyone. That mentality could benefit him tremendously, as he could contribute in the box making tackles and bringing a physical presence the Saints desperately lack.
We are only in May, and anything can happen from now to Training Camp. However, don’t be surprised if Trae Elston cracks the 53-man roster for the Saints. He has the potential to even see the field for the black and gold in 2016, as he is a strong overall player with the ability to make the big play at any time in the game.