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Will Matt Elam be the next Gator in New England?

INDIANAPOLIS — The Patriots need help in the secondary any way they can get it, whether at corner or safety, so the idea of a guy who was recruited by Urban Meyer [1] and tries to play like Ed Reed [2] would have to be in Bill Belichick’s wheelhouse.

Florida’s Matt Elam, the younger brother of Chiefs safety Abram Elam, fits the bill there. Though he hasn’t met with the Patriots yet, the rangy and versatile defensive back should get a good look from the Pats [3] as they determine how to spend the 29th overall pick.

Elam hits hard and covers a lot of ground despite not being the biggest guy at 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds. He figures to be the second safety off the board behind Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro on draft day, but Elam feels confident that he’s this draft’s premier safety.

“I play very hard, and I love to strike people,” he said. “I feel like that’s what helps me stand out the most. I’m very versatile. I can cover slot receivers, I can go down and cover, I can go in the [tackle box], I can play in the post. I feel like that makes me stand out the most.”

Elam has former Gator safeties to look up to (Reggie Nelson [4] among them), but he models his game after Reid, a Miami product who has been linked to the Patriots should he not return to the Ravens.

“I watch film on Ed Reed all the time, every week,” he said. “I look forward to [watching] him all the time.”

Although Meyer’s days in Gainesville are in the past, one should never overlook the connection between his guys and the Patriots. With mixed results, Bill Belichick brought on Brandon Spikes [5], Jermaine Cunningham [6] and Aaron Hernandez [7] in 2010, among other Gators that have landed in Foxboro in recent years.

“When they come back, I always talk to those guys about [the NFL],” Elam said of his former teammates currently playing in Foxboro. “They tell me it’s a 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.