Matt Elam- Safety
While the everyday fan may love this pick because of Elam's ability to lay the wood, his real value lies with another one of his abilities; to effectively play every position in the secondary. At Florida, Elam was able to make an impact on the game whether he had "deep third" responsibilities in Cover 3, man-to-man responsibilities at nickel corner, or simply playing the "robber" position in the middle of the field reading the quarterback's eyes. Not only do these talents allow the Ravens to move Elam around the field, but it also lets Deen Pee's use Michael Huff in more man coverage at the line of scrimmage. If the Ravens were to draft a player like Jonathan Cyprien, who doesn't have the range or necessary instincts to play solo over the top, than Huff would be forced into being a one diminutional player.
Another aspect of Elam's game that could make this defense even scarier, is his knack of jumping the snap count when blitzing the quarterback. Two years ago, we saw Chuck Pagano blitz heavily with members of the secondary. Sadly, the Ravens didn't use much of that last season. Maybe it was due to lack of talent at the safety position or lack of trust in leaving their corners on an island, but it seemed the Ravens really missed that aggressiveness. Elam could come in immediately and get to the quarterback the same way Pollard did in his first year in Baltimore.
Last year, poor play at safety really hampered Pees' ability to diversify the Ravens defense. So, if Elam can come in right away and make his versatility a strength for this team then it would be considered a great success.
Draft Grade- A-
Arthur Brown- Linebacker
After Brown was selected, the national media quickly made it into the "Ravens finally find the heir to Ray Lewis" story. This, however, is simply not true. This isn't because I don't think Brown will be a great player(he will be), but because he won't be even playing the same position as Ray Lewis.
In the Ravens scheme, the "mike" linebacker is the one who plays directly over the strong side "guard bubble" between the five technique defensive end and the one technique nose tackle. This requires a big linebacker that is able to stack and shed blockers while still being able to make a play on the ball. This was Ray's position. The position Brown will likely play is the one formerly manned by Dannell Ellerbe. This player aligns over the weak side three technique defensive tackle, who ties up the blockers at the line of scrimmage, allowing him to run sideline to sideline unblocked. Typically, this player is the most athletic linebacker on the team; a natural fit for Arthur Brown.
While Brown's ability to stuff runs at the line of scrimmage will be key, his work on third downs in coverage may be just as valuable. Last year, the Ravens were burdened by Ray Lewis' nonexistent movement skills. He simply couldn't play man-to-man with anyone. To keep him on the field, the Ravens had to play him in "robber" coverage between the hashes. Unfortunately, this meant that the Ravens either had to only rush three or play with one single high safety--easy pickins for good quarterbacks. This year, Brown's ability to play man coverage will allow Dean Pees to call more coverages with two high safeties.
Draft Grade- A