The NFL Draft is officially under way, and holding the 32nd overall pick, the Baltimore Ravens just sat back and watched the mayhem ensue. Multiple trades were made ahead of pick #32, and they actually allowed the Ravens to draft the player they needed. The selection of Matt Elam was what the “final four” decision makers in the Ravens’ draft room wanted. I had Elam rated as the second best safety in the 2013 class, so you could consider this pick to be a huge steal.
The option that many fans, including myself, speculated could occur was the Ravens selecting Manti Te’o, who did slip into the second round. Te’o could’ve been picked up by at least four teams ahead of Baltimore, but it was apparent that nobody wanted to “waste” their first rounder on a true second round-talent.
Once you evaluate the Elam vs. Te’o selection, it shouldn’t come as a shock to you that Ozzie and Co. decided to snatch the Florida safety.
Other than the fact that Newsome stated that Elam was higher on the draft board, this was the best pick the Ravens could have made rounding out the first round. Jonathan Cyprein was another option at safety, but it is clear that Elam was who the team wanted—and rightfully so.
Manti Te’o is a tremendous talent and deserves to be drafted tonight. If he isn’t, something is seriously wrong. His play on the field is close to perfect and the leadership and communication skill that he possesses is truly supreme. Te’o will go on to be a solid NFL player and should be a linebacker in the league for a long time.
The reason that Newsome had Elam higher than Te’o could be because of the media attention that Te’o will bring, or possibly the locker-room ridicule that he will face anywhere he will land. Let’s be honest, in a locker room full of 52 other grown men, the Manti-“Te’NO Girlfriend” joke will come up right away. For a super bowl winning team, Ozzie Newsome should want as little controversy in the locker room as possible.
Bottom Line: Matt Elam is a better player on the field. He may be a small 5’10”, but he can lay down a hit as good as anyone else in this class! There will always be debate that the Ravens should have picked Te’o, but it will always be nonsense.
Matt Elam is a Baltimore Raven, and he will bring all the upside that he owns to the practice field starting the first day of mini-camps.