Rapid reaction draft grade – Matt Elam: B-


Round One of the 2013 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Ravens have a new safety in Matt Elam from Florida.

I have to admit, I am not jumping for joy with the pick. Elam is a solid player and makes big plays, but not enough of them. At 5-foot-10, he could struggle with the bigger receivers in the league today.

Some have compared him with Bob Sanders, which to me is not what the Ravens needed. They needed a cover safety. It’s a passing league.

Here’s what others had to say…


NFL Comparison: Quintin Mikell

Bottom Line: Elam is one of the higher profile prospects at his position due to his onfield emotion and energy when lining up big hits in the open field. The junior thrives when his number is called, and Elam was very visible since he frequently lined up in the box at strong safety. However, when looking beyond the splash plays, Elam lacks urgency and can be seen standing around while others make the play. That combined with his tendency to launch himself at ball carriers rather than make form tackles might have caused some scouts to be a bit apprehensive.


Elam (5-10, 208) made 26 starts for Florida, logging 23.5 career tackles for loss, six picks and three forced fumbles. He ran a 4.54 forty-yard dash at the Combine, and posted a 35.5-inch vertical. Elam offers top-notch ball skills and is a striker in the run game. He garnered pre-draft comparisons to Bob Sanders for his size and physicality. Elam covered slot receivers in Florida’s nickel defense, but will struggle to match up with much taller tight ends in the NFL.

CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang

Strengths: Athletic, instinctive and quite physical, Elam demonstrated the ability to walk up into the box and be a force near the line of scrimmage while also dropping back into coverage as a single-high safety. …

Weaknesses: Lacks preferred size for the position. Too often loses out on 50-50 balls, being forced to attempt to rip away at the hands of the receiver as he attempts to come down with the catch. Highly aggressive downhill tackler who can come in too hot and lose control, leaving cut-back lanes. …

Compares To: Charles Godfrey, SS, Carolina Panthers — Godfrey, a former cornerback at Iowa, has emerged as a rock-solid safety for the Panthers and one known for his physical play. Elam has a similar frame, game and mind-set. He has a knack of making big plays at critical moments and therefore could ultimately earn some Troy Polamalu comparisons, but he’ll need to clean up his open-field tackling skills to earn that kind of lofty praise.


All in all, the pick will have the draft community singing the Ravens’ praises. They certainly have drafted well at the end of the first round in the past, and deserve the benefit of the doubt. There are maybe 11 more picks to be made the next two days, and we can’t judge the incoming class until the draft is over, but based on pick one, I assign a B-minus to the Ravens.

Jonathan Cyprien out of Florida International is a better prospect and a better cover guy. Linebacker Arthur Brown would have fit nicely. Receivers Keenan Allen or Justin Hunter would have helped Joe Flacco and the offense. Many good players are left on the board, so on to rounds two and three we go.

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About Ken Zalis

Ken Zalis
Born in Randallstown Ken Zalis, KZ as he is known, is now a top 10 Fantasy Football Expert according to Fantasy Pro.com. His FansFantasyFootball.com which he founded is one of the most respected Fantasy Football and NFL Draft sites in the industry. KZ can be heard all over the Baltimore...more

6 Raves on “Rapid reaction draft grade – Matt Elam: B-

    • MD Fan on said:

      I agree. he is replacing Pollard and is better than any of the guys before him. And he is faster and a better cover guy then everyone of them (leonard, landry and others) . So he is a great pick at 32 and it is why the Ravens did not wait to get offers from other teams for their pick. He is also faster than Reid who SF moved up to get. I am very happy with this pick.

  1. patrick on said:

    I think Matt Elam plays like Ed Reed used to before his 2007 neck injury. Not saying he’ll be as good, but same style.

  2. Tgun42 on said:

    B- No way. Elam is an A. He can conver way better then Pollard and he NEVER misses tackles. He and Huff in the back end will give us two safties with great range and sure tackleing ability. Combine that with the pass rush we are putting together and Webby locking down a side. Looking Good. If we can find a way to still get Minter at MLB who can also cover. We are gong to ball out.

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