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The Ravens proved once again just how a front office can help keep a team competitive. Year after year Ozzie Newsome and his staff show the NFL how to build a team. This year they had an outstanding draft once again. They came into the draft with a defense that looked like it had finally reached its end. Due to free agency and retirement the Ravens were left with a defense that was once proud needing some help. The departure of both Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard left particular need at the safety position, which is where the Ravens spent their first overall pick and selected Matt Elam. He is a little shorter than NFL scouts like to see for the position, 5-9, but he makes up for it with play. He is a strong, aggressive player whose demeanor will fit in good with the Ravens. He plays the game instinctively, and has very fluid hips. He makes quick diagnoses in run defense and is one of those guys who always seems to be around the ball, making big plays. He’s also an extremely hard worker, someone who respects his craft. He should fit in great in Baltimore. He will likely see some action early due to needs. Last season the team ran packages where they had up to 6 defensive backs on the field at the same time, Elam would certainly be a part of that unit.
The other position that was a big need for them coming in was linebacker. They addressed that need in the 2nd round by selecting Arthur Brown, from Kansas St. For the talent level he brings to the table, being chosen at 56th overall was an absolute steal. At 6-1, 241 lbs. he brings good size to the position. He’ll need to, because the shoes he’s filling are that of Ray Lewis. Brown has good instincts, can track the run down well due to lateral quickness. He needs some work taking plays on head-on, but he can still make his way through traffic, shed the block, and tackle. He’s strong, has passion for the game, and a desire to learn. Brown has played both inside and outside on the during his college days, but in a 3-4 defense, he will line up inside and hopefully give them Dannell Ellerbe-type production. Anytime a team loses a player like Ray Lewis it’s going to hurt, but the Ravens lost both starters, Ellerbe is gone too. When you add to that the injury to Jameel McClaine, and the possibility that chance that Ronaldo McClain may not be here in the future, you can see why the team had to address this need immediately. It looks like the found a great replacement who is willing to learn and grow into the spot.
One of the things Baltimore has always had going for it as a franchise, was the commitment of the players. It has always seemed that anyone who wasn’t ready to give, wouldn’t be able to survive in a locker room with number 52. If they hope to continue on that road, they will need to keep putting players in the locker room who are dedicated to learning.