We all were aware that the Ravens needed a free safety after the departure of future Hall of Famer Ed Reed.
Elam is only 5’10” but he plays much bigger. As far as safeties go, the former Florida Gator is one of the more gifted athletes available. He’s also was one of more productive safeties in this draft. When you pair his elite measurables with solid production, the Ravens did a great job adding talent to their roster with the last pick in the first-round.
Elam projects well in the NFL as a guy with incredible physical tools and a knack for making plays. He should never have the type of career that Ed Reed has had and anyone who is expecting that type of production is going to be severely disappointed.
Elam may not be the ball-hawk that Reed is but he does bring a valuable physicality to that Ravens secondary that should help fill the shoes left behind with the departure of Bernard Pollard.
Elam is an intriguing prospect considering he has the ability to play either free or strong safety. Considering the Ravens signed Michael Huff, Elam may be slated to start at strong safety. Besides, his play-style suggests the Ravens may want to use him more in that strong safety role anyway.
Elam’s game speed and hustle pop out on tape and should give that once aging defense quite a boost of youthful adrenaline.
With limited depth at the position, he should step in right away as an uncontested starter and make an immediate impact in that secondary. Expect the rookie to be an every down player and have his attrition tested from a long 16-game NFL season.
What grade would you give the selection of Matt Elam?
All in all the Ravens hit on two fronts in addressing a big-time need and adding quality talent with enticing potential. The decision to bypass Manti Te’o may or may not haunt them but Ozzie Newsome’s track record for drafting well should ease concerns on the gutsy call. For those who believe LB Arthur Brown should have been the pick, I completely disagree. That hypothetical scenario would be a terrible choice by Baltimore.
Elam was definitely the most complete safety available and has a much better upside over a guy like Jonathan Cyprien.