Ravens Training Camp Battle Preview: Will Hill vs Matt Elam


Nov 24, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baltimore Ravens strong safety Will Hill (33) celebrates with teammates free safety Darian Stewart (24) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (21) after returning an interception by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (not pictured) for a touchdown during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I know what you’re thinking – no way is this even a battle.  Will Hill obviously has the edge on the perennial disappointment that is Matt Elam, make no bones about it.

The only reason I even bring this up as a position battle is the fact that the Matt Elam hype train is barreling down the tracks.  You could attribute this to Elam actually improving, or you could just call it a team trying to build confidence in a player.

Related: Ravens Call Out Matt Elam

Either way, there’s been nothing but sunshine and rainbows coming out of Baltimore in regards to Matt Elam’s offseason.  Dean Pees didn’t mince words when asked about Elam’s performance throughout the offseason program.

“Best camp he’s had, bar none. Not even close,” Pees responded. “I expect big things out of Matt. I really do.”

The thing is, Elam has so far backed up those words.  First, he showed up to voluntary work eight pounds lighter and with 5 percent less body fat, looking faster and shiftier on the field.  After missing a whopping 18 tackles last season, those kind of things are important, as Pees acknowledged.

“We don’t know [the tackling] yet, but as far as his communication, knowing the defense, being in the right spots, all of those things, it’s the best camp he’s had,” he said.

Elam’s play thus far has been solid as well.  During OTAs, he knocked down a sure touchdown pass intended for Crockett Gillmore, and followed that up with an interception in minicamp.  Perhaps the light has finally switched on?

On the other hand, despite the fact that the Ravens are splitting first team reps between Hill and Elam, you have to know that Hill has the upper hand.  His play last season was solid despite coming to a new team and missing a good chunk of the season.

Related: Will Hill’s Breakout Season Coming in 2015

Hill has also cleaned up his act, having a trouble free offseason for the first time in his career and showing up for offseason activities noticeably stronger in his upper body.  Hill has been praised for putting in extra work at the Ravens’ facilities this offseason, and it shows.

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Regardless of what the Ravens’ coaching staff is saying, I still have to give Will Hill the nod here over Matt Elam.  He’s simply a more naturally talented and proven player, despite his past transgressions. After all, he was the #3 safety in the entire NFL in Pro Football Focus’ rankings in 2013, and 14th last season.

I’m glad that Elam is improving, and I hope that he can shed the bust label that he has carried around for the last three seasons.  I just don’t think that he is going to beat out Will Hill on the field.  But is intense competition ever a bad thing for a team that had dangerously thin depth in the secondary last season?

Next: Ravens Training Camp Battle Preview: Running Back

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