Even though Elliott is a free safety, he is a very good run defender who likes to deliver a pop. He has the toughness to play at the line of scrimmage and maneuvers well through the traffic, attacking the ball carrier. He is a reliable tackler with balanced form. Elliott shows strong form all around whether tackling, defending, or bursting out of his breaks. He displays explosive quickness which lets him play sideline to sideline. Also, he has a knack for being in the right position. A majority of his turnovers came from being in the right place at the right time. These attributes allow him to play multiple positions and contribute in multiple roles within the defense.
I believe the intangibles are what distinguish the great players from the good players. DeShon Elliott is a natural leader. He was suddenly asked to be “the guy” this year, and he had the best year of his career, by far. Being a leader is not something that can be taught, and it can not be measured at the combine. It is a natural gift that Elliott clearly displayed on the field. He led the Longhorns, and that defense thrived under his leadership.
Elliott has solid coverage skills. He tends to give a big cushion in zone, and he plays routinely deep roaming as the free in the back end. He has quality man coverage skills, but he is inconsistent. He is going to have to tighten up his coverage all around and become a more consistent focused player. If quarterbacks in the NFL are given a free window, consider it stealing.
The other concern I have with Elliott being a FS is if he has the ball hawk skills. He has shown ball hawking ability, but this does not qualify him as a ball hawking safety. A majority of his interceptions have come from over throws with him being in the right place. He will have to make more plays on the ball in the NFL, contest more passes, and have a better feel for the plays developing. Elliott has to fine tune his game. He clearly has the athleticism, but that will only get a player so far in the NFL. However, I do believe this will all come with more practice and more playing time.
How He Fits
Football is not a game any “athlete” can play. There is a difference in being an athlete and being a football player who is athletic. Elliott is an athletic football player, and he will bring much need athleticism to the back end. He is a good quality chess piece that Pettine will use to his advantage. Pettine has already stated that disguise is a big part of his defense. Elliott can play in different packages and different roles which will help with the game plan. I also believe he will display the same leadership on the field as he did in college.
2nd – 3rd