Ravens select S Matt Elam with final pick of first-round
With so many good safeties available in this year’s draft, the Baltimore Ravens were expected to have ample options to make their pick. But drafting a safety in the first round goes to show that the position was a priority for the Baltimore Ravens this year. It is only the second-time in team history that the Baltimore Ravens have selected a safety as high as in the first-round. The Baltimore Ravens previously selected Pro Bowler Ed Reed with the 24th overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft.
But with Ed Reed signing with the Houston Texans as a free agent this offseason (following 11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens), and Bernard Pollard also joining the Tennessee Titans, the 2012 Super Bowl Champions have lost their starting their two starting safeties from last season. Although added former Oakland Raiders’ first-round pick Michael Huff and re-signed reserve safety as well as special teams contributor James Ihedigbo during free agency, Matt Elam will add further depth at safety. Moreover, besides Michael Huff and James Ihedigbo, none of the safeties under contract by the Baltimore Ravens have starting experience, so Matt Elam could also come into mix for the job.
Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro (who was selected 15th overall by the New Orleans Saints) generated most of the pre-draft buzz at the position. But Matt Elam is considered a hard-hitting, play-maker who has shown great versatility with his ability to walk up into the box and dominate near the line of scrimmage, while also emerging as a one-dimensional safety when involved in stopping the run.
The only concerns with Matt Elam seemed to be diminutive size (at 5-foot-10, 208 pounds) which at times makes him vulnerable in coverage. It was expected to affect Matt Elam’s draft stock so that he could even drop to the second-round.
However, the draft pundits were equally swayed by Matt Elam’s instincts to avoiding tackles and anticipation in knocking away passes in close timings. Moreover, Matt Elam’s speed gives him an edge in coverage so that he is able to get good break to make plays on the ball.