Newsome's Patience Guides Matt Elam To His Super Bowl Defense
By Cian Fahey
Being a superstar quarterback requires precision, athleticism and other immeasurable talents. To be a superstar running back requires intelligence, speed, physicality and fearlessness. But to be a superstar general manager in the NFL at times requires patience.
Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome showed off his patience in the first round of the NFL draft when he waited out the selections to land Florida S Matt Elam. Elam was selected with the Ravens' original pick (32nd overall) as the third safety and only second strong safety. Elam won't turn 22 until after his rookie season has begun.
The selection confirmed that Newsome and the Ravens coaching staff are looking to continue with the same blueprint that won them a Super Bowl title last year. After Ed Reed left in free agency and Bernard Pollard was released from his contract in the off-season, the Ravens have brought in two younger replacements, but two similar-styled players.
Elam is a very aggressive and athletic defender who will spend most of his time on the field in the box or within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Michael Huff – the free agent signed to replace Ed Reed – will spend most of his time playing deep center field. Wiith Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith at cornerback and a plethora of pass-rushers, Elam's aggressive style will be a perfect complement for the Ravens as they look to counteract any tight end-inclined offenses.
With the way the AFC North is shaping up, the Cincinnati Bengals appear to be the Ravens' main rival for a division title. Considering the Bengals added Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert – the draft's top tight end – to Jermaine Gresham, using Elam to battle with them in their two regular-season matchups will be a vital part of the defensive gameplan.
Elam is a high-intensity player who proved to be flexible in different roles as a leader in college. He is aggressive and plays the run well, but lacks the ideal size to cover tight ends so, like Pollard, he will be looking to intimidate tight ends and receivers or use his physicallity to disrupt timing at the next level. Elam's aggressiveness in going for the big hit can work against him at times – like any defender of his style – but with more experience he should be able to curtail that impact.
Newsome was able to land an ideal fit for his defense, despite picking so late in the first round.