Matt Elam Selected No. 32 by Baltimore Ravens
Manti Te’o kept dropping in Round 1, past the Bears at 20 and then three times beyond the Vikings. Surely, at 32, the Ravens would add the Notre Dame linebacker to help offset the losses of Dannell Ellerbe and Ray Lewis, right?
Nope. Instead the Ravens grabbed Florida safety Matt Elam with the final pick of Round 1 — and you won’t get much argument with that decision here.
That’s because safety also stood as a position of need for the Ravens, and Elam held the No. 2 spot there on the Audibles Big Board heading into the draft. With Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid picked earlier in Round 1, the choices at safety narrowed to Elam, Jonathan Cyprien and a couple of others that now may go in Round 2.
Elam’s lack of size (5-foot-9) has been hard for some scouts to wrap their heads around when considering him as a prospect, but it is more of an issue when covering taller receivers/tight ends than it is elsewhere. Elam plays with a chip on his shoulder, storming the football and constantly trying to deliver a big hit. He’s a perfect fit for the Ravens in those regards — this is a defense that prides itself on that little extra nastiness.
The Ravens can pair Elam with Michael Huff at their two safety spots, with Huff taking on a more Ed Reed-type center fielder role and Elam diving down into the box.
Grade: B-plus. Talent-wise, there were not many players on the board that could match Elam. The Ravens might have needed more help at other spots, but this is a solid pick at No. 32.