The Baltimore Ravens lost both starting safeties from the Super Bowl Championship team. Ed Reed signed with the Houston Texans and Bernard Pollard was released and ultimately signed with the Tennessee Titans. Replacing Reed was taken care of by the free agent signing of former Oakland Raiders safety Michael Huff.
The Ravens had safety James Ihedigbo, who was expected to step into the role of strong safety in 2013. However, the selection of Matt Elam (Florida) may have thrown a bit of a wrench in that plan. Elam may only be a rookie, but he could end up reminding many of the bone-crunching Pollard.
At 5'10" and 202 pounds, Elam may give up a bit in stature, but makes up more than that in the way he hits. Elam may be the most physical safety to come out in the draft, and as one of the analysts said on ESPN, "a classic Ravens pick."
Although he will play strong safety, Elam is still known as a ball-hawking safety,a term most used to describe Ed Reed, as evidenced by his six career interceptions, including two this past year. He stats for his final year at Florida tell the tale of the quality player the Ravens will be getting, proving his versatility that translates superbly to the professional level.
Second on his team in tackles with 78, including eleven for losses. He broke up seven passes, and forced two fumbles. A little of everything for Elam, whose explosiveness can be seen in the YouTube video above.
The Ravens are far from done in the draft, with rounds two and three starting this evening. With eleven more picks, don't be surprised if they package a couple of them to move up and get another instant contributor. There is no way that this veteran team has 12 opening for rookies on their roster, so expect a flurry of trades with so much talent remaining after the first round.