Matt Elam was a playmaker in the Florida Gators secondary for two years after deciding to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL. Baltimore hasn't selected a junior in the first round since 2003 when they took Terrell Suggs. If that doesn't tell you something about how strongly Baltimore felt about Elam, I don't know what will.
The Ravens lost Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard this offseason and had a major hole at the safety positions. They filled one hole when they signed former Raider Michael Huff but really weren't comfortable having James Ihedigbo as their other starter. He played well in the role he was given, but he isn't more than an average starter at best.
Elam will come into Baltimore to compete with Ihedigbo for the starting position and most likely will win the competition. Elam has very high upside but already has solid technique and is a sound tackler with good range. The Ravens cut Bernard Pollard because of locker room issues and because he was a liability in coverage. Elam will certainly be an upgrade in that regard.
Michael Huff might have a hard time filling Ed Reed's shoes, but in many ways Elam could be an immediate upgrade over Pollard.
Besides Huff and Ihedigbo, the Ravens have a few other safeties on the roster. Omar Brown, Emmanuel Cook and Christian Thompson are all second-year players who have promise, but don't have nearly the upside that Elam has. However, if Elam doesn't prove ready to start in his first few games, it's possible that one of the other young players could be asked to play more.
Elam will start opposite Huff and serve as a solid playmaker in the secondary for the Ravens. I wouldn't go so far as to project him to the Pro Bowl, but Elam will certainly have plenty of opportunities to shine in the Ravens defense. The team has now filled one of it's major holes and will likely address the left tackle, wide receiver and inside linebacker positions with the next several selections.
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