Trae Elston has found a new home in the NFL. The former Rebels safety inked a deal with the Cleveland Browns, who recently lost rookie defensive back Derrick Kindred for the season with a broken ankle.
Elston originally signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent, then spent five weeks on Tampa Bay’s practice squad. He was a four-year starter and an All-American in Oxford, but concerns over his size and athleticism shut him out of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Here’s what I wrote about those concerns before the draft:
Pretty much any scouting report you drag up on the web holds Elston's 5'11, 195-pound build against him. His official review at NFL.com insists that he's "lacking size/speed combination" and that his size "won't jump off the screen at teams."
"I think it's because a lot of people say I'm undersized," Elston told me when I asked why he's been universally overlooked. "But there are a lot safeties in the league that are 5'11 and around that 190, 200 range."
Indeed there are, Trae. Of the 32 projected starters at free safety next year, 12 of them are shorter than 6'0 and weigh 200 pounds or less. Five of them are both shorter and lighter than Elston, including last year's All Pro selection, Tyrann Mathieu (5'9, 186). If you take the average height and weight of all 32 starters, the composite is just half an inch taller and nine pounds heavier than Elston.
"You know, I'm kind of happy that I got overlooked,” Elston told the Cup during that pre-draft interview. “It really humbled me and made me work really hard and focus on my dream... I'm just ready to make a statement. I really don't know what to expect. If I don't get drafted, I'll go through free agency. I'll find a way in."