With the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens selected Florida Gators safety Matt Elam. Elam comes in as the No. 4 safety in this draft class in the SB Nation rankings, behind only D.J. Swearinger of South Carolina, Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International and consensus top safety Kenny Vaccaro of Texas.
Elam gives the defending champions an explosive, hard-hitting replacement at the safety spot for the departed Ed Reed.
Over at Niners Nation, bloggers posted a prospect profile of Elam pre-draft, and here's what they had to say about his strengths:
- A very aggressive player with above average range, Elam can make the north/south hard-hitting tackles just as well as he can make a game-saving play. He can play the line of scrimmage or he can drop back into coverage, and he'll never have to come off the field.
- Elam plays on pure instincts and they're very, very good, at that. His anticipation is impeccable and his angles are top notch. He's like Patrick Willis in the secondary.
- Versatility is a strong point, as he can line up at either safety spot and do well. If he were to play forward like Donte Whitner he'd excel, and if he were expected to defend the deep pass, he'd excel.
- Has very good hip rotation and has great recovery to keep up with the burners of the NFL.
Elam is part of a safety class that is considered the strongest in many years. He made waves with the Gators as a hard-hitting, playmaking safety and started this offseason ranked No. 2 at the position behind Vaccaro. Things have changed since then, but he's still got plenty of positive film to his name.
The 11-1 Gators had one of the better defenses in the nation last season and without Elam's playmaking, they certainly wouldn't have been ranked as high. One big knock on Elam to this point has been the fact that he gets penalized a good bit and would be considered a risk to do it a lot more at the next level.