- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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INDIANAPOLIS -- It's still early in the process, but one of the names most commonly associated with the Patriots in mock drafts is Florida safety Matt Elam, an early entrant who capped off a strong 2012 season with 11 tackles and a sack in the Sugar Bowl.
Media members heard from Elam on Sunday morning at the NFL combine, and he delivered a self-scouting report on his strengths as a player.
"My physicality, I play very hard," he said. "I love to strike people, I feel like that will help me stand out the most. I'm very versatile, I can cover slot receivers, I can go in the box and tackle, I can play in the post. I feel like that makes me stand out the most."
Although not a big safety at 5-foot-10, Elam said his athleticism compensates for his size.
"Yes, I think that's an advantage," he said of his athletic ability. "I'm very athletic. Growing up I was very athletic, and I feel like that separates me. I'm not the biggest safety I guess, but I feel like I play hard, and that makes me stand out."
He has NFL pedigree, as his older brother Abe is a veteran safety for the Chiefs. He said that he's learned a lot from his brother, but it's another NFL safety that the younger Elam compares his game to.
"Ed Reed, I watch film on Ed Reed all the time, every week," he said.
From a Patriots perspective, Elam offers value as a player who can play in a strong safety role, as he's a willing tackler and forceful defender despite his smaller frame. He added that he played within a scheme at Florida that called upon him to play in both a free and strong safety role, similar to how many NFL teams are today.
Florida has served as something of a pipeline to New England, with Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham and Jeff Demps all having come from the program.
He said that he's caught up with his former teammates since they've been in the NFL.
"When they come back, I always talk to [those] guys about the NFL," Elam noted. "They tell me it's different league, a lot of bigger and tougher guys, faster guys, but that's expected. That's why I go out to work every day."
As for interactions with the Patriots this week, Elam said he's met with numerous teams, but didn't indicate specifically which.