Bloodlines And A Nickel Corner

April 22nd, 2021

Washington DB Elijah Molden.

One of the great treats of the Super Bowl-winning season for the Bucs was to see safety Antoine Winfield ball out the way he did.

Rookie? Some rookie. He looked like a savvy vet. Talk about a smooth transition.

Of course, it helps to have had a dad who was a former Pro Bowl corner. As smart as Winfield played, and as much as his dad coached him up as his personal coach throughout the season, Team Glazer ought to cut Daddy Winfield a stipend.

Asante Samuel, Patrick Surtain, Jaycee Horn and Elijah Molden are all defensive backs who not only should be drafted in the first two days of the draft, but all had fathers who played in the NFL.

NFL Network lead draft analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah noted in a conference call with NFL media this week that having a father who played in the NFL definitely gives these guys an edge in the minds of team shot-callers.

“It seems like all these kids are coming up, and they’ve grown up around the game,” Jeremiah said. “The transition is not going to be a big deal to those guys in any of these sports. They’re comfortable. They grew up around teams and locker rooms and they’ve learned kind of to stay — most of the ones I’ve talked to are more even keel. They don’t get carried away with the highs or the lows because they’ve seen their dad experience all that stuff and he’s been able to kind of guide them through that.

“Yeah, I think it’s very helpful. We used to always have the arguments in draft rooms about brothers. I think personally it’s more valuable if you’ve had a father that’s been through it and you’ve kind of grow up with it your whole life as opposed to maybe an older brother who is a couple years ahead of you that went through it.

“I just remember one draft meeting where we had a sibling who one scout really liked and another scout didn’t. So one scout trumpeted the genes and how great the genes were, and I remember the line I think was, ‘This guy is more Ozzie Canseco than he is José Canseco’ was the response there.

“There are examples and times where it didn’t work out, but I think the father-son thing… I’ve never seen anything like where we’ve had this many guys at one position. I think it’s pretty cool.”

Obviously, it would be a shock if Surtain or Horn were anywhere close to the Bucs at No. 32. Samuel and Molden are different stories.

As for Molden, from Washington, Dane Brugler of The Athletic, in his “Beast” draft guide, has him as a second-round pick projected at No. 45 overall. Brugler has Molden as his No. 6 corner.

STRENGTHS: Outstanding reactive athleticism and reflexes…instinctive hunter with quick eyes and trigger…smart and opportunistic in coverage, pattern reading based on situation/formation…quick to sort through route combinations and adjust…alert in zone, tracking the eyes of the quarterback and undercutting passing lanes…gets his head turned downfield to find the football…skilled at raking the ball away at the catch point or shortly after…physical striker and arrives at his target with violent intentions…shows a knack for slipping blocks…competes with a hard-nosed nature and overflowing adrenaline…voted as the team’s most inspirational player as a senior…experienced at the line of scrimmage over the slot receiver or in the deep half of the field…also has 479 career snaps on special teams…NFL bloodlines…durable and didn’t miss a game in college…excellent production over his final two seasons with 19 passes defended and five interceptions (17 games).

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Washington, Molden played a nickel role in head coach Jimmy Lake’s five-man starting secondary, lining up primarily vs. the slot receiver while also seeing reps as a single-high safety. He was part of a secondary in 2018 with three future draft picks (Byron Murphy, Taylor Rapp, Jordan Miller) before announcing himself as a legitimate NFL prospect as a junior in 2019, leading the team in tackles, passes defended and interceptions. With his reactive athleticism, Molden quickly processes pass/run and stays coordinated in zone and man coverage to make plays on the ball. While scrappy and smart, you wish he were longer and faster to provide the versatility to play outside. Overall, Molden’s lack of ideal size, length and twitch will be a disadvantage at times vs. NFL skill players, but his instincts, competitive nature and read/react skills are tailor-made for a starting nickel role who shouldn’t leave the field (defense or special teams).

Joe’s good friend Emory Hunt, the Czar of the Playbook, has Molden much higher on his board. In fact, Hunt lists Molden as his No. 1 corner in his Football Gameplan Draft Guide.


– Tremendous football awareness, both spatially and schematically. He just understands ball, and is always in the right spot.
– Great short-area defender who excels on both ends of defense. Receivers barely generate separation, and he’s an extra defender vs the run.
– The polish he has is just excellent, he’s a plug-and-play defender.

Areas of Improvement:
– Deep speed is just adequate. Isn’t a true burner at the position, so if he gets put in a situation where that can reveal itself, then it could be an issue.

Here’s something also to remember about Molden that Joe likes: He was coached up well by Huskies coach Jimmy Lake. In two separate occasions, Lake was a Bucs defensive backs coach (the first time under then-defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin).  So Molden has been coached up with an NFL-level education.

Between his coaching and his bloodlines, and given how the Bucs hit a home run with Winfield due in part to his dad, could this push Molden into play with Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht?

One thing Joe likes about him is that when Molden tackles ballcarriers, he makes sure they feel him.

24 Responses to “Bloodlines And A Nickel Corner”

  1. DoooshLaRue Says:

    I’d take him over Samuel.
    Asante looks like a punk, kinda has that VH3 look that says “trouble”

  2. Cobraboy Says:

    Consider the Archie/Peyton/Eli/Arch bloodline.

    One wonders what Cooper could have been if it were not for his spinal stenosis, diagnosed at 18…

  3. Medicated Pete Says:

    I’m pounding the table on draft day in the Bucs war room for a Cornerback

  4. ncbucsfan Says:

    Like his toughness, but he’s too slow! Another example of inflated 40 times I read. Supposed clocked at 4.41 at his pro day, but an NFL scout clocked him at 4.62 and 4.59. Maybe the scout wants him to slide, but those times make me think of MJ Stewart and his inability to hang with slot receivers. Molden may be just as slow and much smaller…..hard pass!!!!

  5. Mitch Says:

    I second DooshLaRue.

    I know Asante Samuel Jr is projected as a late first early second I would still take Elijah Molden, Eric Stokes, and Ifeatu Melifonwu over him.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    You can’t teach smarts, speed or genes.

  7. Cobraboy Says:

    If you’re drafting a guy as a pure nickel, I’m not sure pure blazing speed is as important as quicks, smarts, awareness and toughness.

    How often does a nickel track a receiver deep? How many slots are speed merchants?

    Was there ever a better .05 than Barber? How fast was he? Didn’t he run like a 4.6-somethong at the Combine?

  8. Mitch Says:

    Cobraboy Ronde ran a 4.68.

  9. Kalind Says:

    Molden looks a little slow, but he gets where he’s supposed to be. Like him! ….just not at 32.

  10. Mitch Says:

    My other commented was moderated, but if Bucs go corner I would prefer Elijah Molden, Eric Stokes, or Ifeatu Melifonwu. Hard pass on Asante Samuel Jr.

  11. BDub Says:

    Casserly mocks Najee to us @ 32.

  12. 40Forever Says:

    GREAT tape vs wash st!! With CBS, I’ll tke instincts over size and length.

  13. Allbuccedup Says:

    Molden too slow 4.59 40 on pro day. Lucky to be a 3rd day pick.

  14. SOEbuc Says:

    That was some hard hitting tape. Bowels could teach this guy to be a baller with that vision. I’m all for an early round CB to battle for the nickel or outside. Return of Cockrell, we at least have depth in the secondary. Something that still needs to be addressed.

  15. D1 Says:


    The NFL scout who timed him at 4.59 and 4.62… you know where the scout was or how he measured it?

  16. D1 Says:


    Pro day was 4.41 . Now where do you think he’s going to be selected?

    If 40 times were the single be all metric for selecting corners , then it would be so easy, draft the player with the fastest 40x.

  17. Bird Says:

    I am starting to think bucs should draft corner in either round one or two

    Everyone was passing against bucs at will during regular season.
    The playoffs got better for secondary. No question.

    But remember …no corner played that good in washington playoff game
    Saints game carlton davis shut down his man.
    But green-bay game carlton davis got burned on every big play. Go back and watch game.

    No questions smb got better but it showed end of year / playoffs. He was toast before then.
    Dean honestly besides a few lapses may have been most consistent all season
    With that said , why not grab another stud to compete for starting job
    Remember some of these guys are free agents starting very soon and you cant pay everyone

  18. 40Forever Says:

    Instincts make up for 40 time.

  19. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Dooosh doesn’t like the way Samuel “looks”. You can’t make this stuff up.

  20. cgmaster27 Says:

    @dooshlarue what exactly does “looks like a punk mean”? As for play on the field, he’s dramatically better than the Washington DB. Stats don’t lie. Asante is also faster , running a 4.4. And as someone who has watched a crappy Noles team the last few years. Asante was anything but a punk while at that school.

  21. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Dooosh is about as sharp as a spoon.

  22. 813bucboi Says:

    a.samuel is the better CB….

    but this kid can play….molden seems to be a winfield type player…safety / nickle DB…..due to samuels lack of length and physicality i think he’s better suited for slot CB strictly….

    molden would give us great flexibility and value in the 2nd round….

    i would be fine with either one honestly…lol..

    GO BUCS!!!!

  23. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Samuel and Molden will probably be good players in the NFL. Good slot corners. If it were me, if I was taking a CB in the first 3 rounds, I’d want him to have some size, also. Size and can play too, obviously. A smaller slot corner would be a day 3 option, IMHO.

  24. DaBux Says:

    Samuel looks like another VH bust. Let’s go for OL/DL help in the first then secondary help later in the draft.