Rookie Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam has some big shoes to fill. Former starting safety Ed Reed is highly regarded as one of the best to ever play the position. When he left via free agency it was understood that trying to replace him was a high priority. Compounding the situation was that the other starting safety Bernard Pollard also left via free agency.
But the Ravens are a good team, and good teams don’t panic. They put together a plan and they stick to it. Along with drafting Elam with the final pick of the first round in the 2013 NFL draft, they also signed free agent safety Michael Huff. This gives the Ravens a great situation. Both Huff and Elam are versatile players who should be able to play either safety spot.
With that, the focus of the Ravens tandem of safeties during training camp will be to utilize that versatility and try and find out just how many ways they can use Elam and Huff in these sets. Elam can slide into the box and defend the run, drop and play center field and line up in man coverage. One of the best things about Elam’s game that many scouts missed on him in college was his ability to play coverage. Many pundits considered him strictly a run stopping strong safety, but I can definitely see the Ravens working Elam in as a slot cornerback during training camp to see if they can do better in coverage without having to do heavy substitutions.
The Ravens are handing the keys to one of the starting safety spots to Elam, and they are not going to be disappointed. Elam was one of the most exciting playmakers in all of college football in 2012, and while he isn’t, and may never be as good as Reed, he is a perfect fit for the Ravens defense, and will be making plays for a long time in that secondary.