Can Matt Elam measure up in NFL?

Can Matt Elam measure up in NFL?
June 24, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Elam's hard-hitting style fits Ravens' system

Matt Elam is coming off an impressive minicamp. The Ravens are eager to sign their first-round draft choice, as he prepares to compete for a starting safety spot during training camp.

However, Elam will be dogged by at least one question as he transitions to the NFL. Will Elam be hindered by being just 5-foot-10?

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock raised concern about Elam’s height prior to the draft.

"Really, the only downside is his height and there’s nothing you can do about that,” Mayock said. "I put the Tennessee tape on and the tight end, Mychal Rivera, beat him down the seam twice. And it wasn’t that he beat him down the seam, because it was really good coverage. It was just that they threw the ball up high and Rivera went and got it.

"There’s nothing they can do about 5-foot-10, and occasionally you’re going to have to live with that. But on the positive side you get a kid that tackles, a kid that’s tough, a kid that cares; he’s got better hips than I thought he did, and I think he’s going to play a lot of years in the league."

Whether the Ravens will be better or worse defensively in 2013 is an offseason debate. The safety position is one of their biggest question marks, as the Ravens try to replace a future Hall of Fame player in Ed Reed, and last year’s leading tackler, Bernard Pollard.

Free agent acquisition Michael Huff figures to start at one safety slot, alongside either Elam or James Ihedigbo. At the University of Florida, Elam was a sure tackler with excellent range, one of the best safeties in the country. Now in the NFL, Elam will have to prove that he still measures up.