- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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#AskLoogs Matt Elam. Have you re-evaluated? Really believe he is better than your team has rated.
— Shawn Condrey (@scondrey2) October 16, 2013
We are in the process of midseason player evaluations of the current (2014) class across all positions, including DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin).
While it is likely Elam could see a rise in our rankings, it is also important to note the differences in the types of defensive tackles there are and how value is applied. There are essentially two types of tackles — one-gap players (generally the 3 technique) and two-gap players (generally head up or 1 technique) alignment. Ideally, in a four-man or multiple front you will play with two tackles, one more of a one-gap guy and the other a two-gap guy or a hybrid-type player. In a three-man front you will play with a two-gap/0 technique. Elam is what we would categorize as a two-gap, 0 technique player. This player is somewhat scheme limited and also may not have the quick twitch, explosive element most coaches covet. This type of player is utilized as a space-occupier and a player to hold double teams and anchor at the point of attack so that the linebackers and flow freely to the football.
We place a much higher premium on a players like Tim Jernigan at Florida State or Anthony Johnson at LSU — both of whom are a blend of one and two-gap players all wrapped into one. Isaac Gross at Ole Miss is a one-gap guy who is so explosive, he can’t be handled one-on-one. True freshman Montravius Adams at Auburn is stout and explosive, so he can hold the point and be disruptive. Elam does not possess this type of skill set, in our opinion, which limits his value to some degree. Does this mean we don’t think he’s a good player? Of course not; we have him as a four-star player, but also believe he needs to choose the right school/scheme to maximize his ability level. Alabama has interest because of their three-man front package, so it makes sense.
Also, and I feel like I am always saying this, but it is important: Just because a player has an offer does not mean he is No. 1 on the board. So for all you know, many colleges may feel the same way we do. In fact, I know some do. It is our job not to get caught up in hype. Does this mean we will be right all the time? Nope. However, it allows for us to see a player more clearly by making our own assessment.