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By the Numbers: Titans third-round pick DB Elijah Molden

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 21 Arizona at Washington Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We are continuing our “By the Numbers” series today on the Tennessee Titans 2021 draft class. We wrote about Monty Rice last week. We looked at Caleb Farley and Dillon Radunz the week before. Today, we’re profiling the second of the team’s two third round picks, Washington defensive back Elijah Molden.

I LOVE this pick. From a value meets needs perspective, this was my favorite pick the Titans made. In fact, this was one of my favorite picks any team made in the entire draft. I know a lot of you were shocked this wasn’t a receiver. I was a little as well, but that quickly went away for me. Molden is a big time talent and shouldn’t have been available at 100th overall.

I don’t care that the Titans technically “doubled down” with this selection. Molden is a hell of a football player that’s going to find a way to play as a rookie. It reminds me a little of when Jon Robinson drafted Amani Hooker in the fourth round a few years ago. The Titans didn’t “need” a safety when they made that pick, but Hooker played a bunch as a rookie because he was too smart and good to keep on the bench. Hooker is now a starter in 2021. Looking a bit more into the future, Molden gives this team three young and dynamic cornerbacks heading into 2022.

Molden was a swiss-army knife for that Huskies defense. They lined him up at both cornerback and safety. He took the majority of his reps in the slot, which is the most important position in the Washington defense. There was nothing he couldn’t do for them.

The following quote was taken from an interview Molden did with The Draft Network:

“17 pass deflections in 2019? I would point to my ability to recognize things pre-snap. I get a great read on the offense pre-snap. I always have a good feel for where they want to go with the ball. From there, it’s just about trusting in yourself and your technique to go make a play. You have to rely on your instincts.

I‘ll watch tape on myself during my junior year and I cringe. Early on, I wasn’t sure of what I was doing. I was going out there and making plays but I didn’t have that secret formula yet. I had to come up with that. I started picking things up much later in my senior year.

We ran a 4-2-5. It’s a match-three defense. A lot of the responsibility falls on the nickel in that defense. That was the case even before I got there.

For me, I was jumping back and forth from nickel to safety. That was an awesome challenge for me. I was never classified as playing just one position. We had a lot of help from our front seven. We had some really good players rushing the quarterback.”

If you’ve watched the tape and done your homework, it’s impossible not to love Molden as a prospect. He has excellent ball skills. He reads the game at an incredibly high level. He can move all over the field. He has great instincts for the position.

Let’s take a deeper look into how PFF graded Molden throughout the 2020 season.

Games played: 4

Total defensive snaps played: 234

Snaps as a pass rusher: 7

Run defense snaps: 120

Coverage snaps: 107

Tackles: 26

Assists: 5

Missed tackles: 5

Overall grade: 85.2

Because the sample size is a bit small, I decided to include Molden’s 2019 grades as well:

Games played: 13

Total defensive snaps played: 884

Snaps as a pass rusher: 27

Run defense snaps: 366

Coverage snaps: 491

Tackles: 66

Assists: 15

Missed tackles: 9

Overall grade: 90.8

These numbers are elite. As you can see, Molden’s 2019 season was just as good (if not better) as his 2020 campaign. That leaves a huge sample size here.

What are your thoughts on this pick? Do you love it as much as I do? Leave your opinion in the comments.