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Matt Elam: One final season to prove the critics otherwise

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Elam must make a statement this season

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Take a quick second, open up a second tab and google "Matt Elam stats". What comes up is a box with the option to click more stats. Go ahead and click. Notice how the bar doesn't move? Yeah, because he hasn't done more. With personal problems, injuries, and lack of translating into an NFL safety Matt Elam has done everything but become a successful footballer, and this one final opportunity of the 2016-17 season will show Elam's true mettle.

Matt Elam was drafted with the 32nd pick in the 2013 draft. After a great season resulting in a Super Bowl victory Baltimore selected the boom-dropping safety with a tendancy for clutch plays and hard hits. Some of this showed in his rookie season, picking off Matt Stafford with the game on the line in 2013. Problems though showed in the rookie, missing tackles and proving to not be ready for the NFL game.

Matt Elam was put in a very difficult situation no doubt, and you cannot punish the young man. Expectations for the safety were difficult, with Ed Reed and his legacy disappearing. The Ravens had a prominent back field known for turnovers and success, and Matt Elam was put in the fire.

In 2015 he looked to be on the right track. John Harbaugh was quick to note the safety was finally in the right state of mind personally, and his play on the field showed. No longer cloudy he was making plays in OTA's and practice. It didn't last long though, with Elam tearing his biceps. The fans were quite disgruntled, knowing this wasn't a help at the already thin safety depth.

This final season will prove if he can change the negative opinion. Matt Elam has been put in a situation to thrive in as well.

Eric Weddle is a clear cut free safety. Known for coverage and intelligence, Weddle may provide the desired role Baltimore has been without for years. Matt Elam never once played his strong safety position during the last few seasons, forcing him into a deeper coverage unknown to him in his college days. Matt is a strong safety, his biggest strength showing at the line of scrimmage. When you force him into a stretching zone role to protect the last line of defense, he couldn't do what he was trained for; hard hits and short-to-intermediate coverage attack.

This season Eric shall be lining up at FS. Word currently is Ladarius Webb opposite of Weddle. If Matt Elam can crack the starting line-up over Webb and un-mentioned Terrence Brooks the Ravens may be in business for a shocking playmaker.

Personal belief: Matt Elam's struggles have been heavy, and last season he came back to form in practice unlike before. He knows know what he needs to do, and I see him having an up-swing. Hopefully the Ravens push for him more down at the LOS, his role being the fierce attacking strong safety, allowing bigger splash plays to be made. If he is forced downfield the Ravens are setting him up for failure, resulting in a busted first rounder.