The Baltimore Ravens Struggle To Develop Young Players
Do The Baltimore Ravens Struggle To Develop Young Talent?
When the Baltimore Ravens drafted Matt Elam, they were praised by the analysts (including myself). Matt Elam was a play maker with the Florida Gators. Elam looked like a first round talent, for the 2013 NFL Draft.. Elam has been completely disappointing.
Related Story: Don't Give Up On Terrence Brooks
On the NFL field, Elam looks completely lost. Last season, Elam sat out because of an injury. Before sustaining the injury, Elam was expected to show why he was a first round pick. It was going to be a make or break year. Now Elam is fighting just for a roster spot.
It’s easy to forget that Elam was a game changer at Florida. Elam was a strong safety with incredible range. He gave running backs and quarterbacks something to fear. In his Junior season, with the Gators, he had 11 tackles for a loss. He also recorded two sacks and four interceptions. The Ravens believed they found a Troy Polamalu like player.
The Ravens have had a handful of draft picks disappoint in recent years. Like Elam, they all had high expectations because of stellar years in College Football. Terrence Brooks is another example. Here is another strong safety that has yet to prove himself.
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Terrence Brooks was a play-maker at Florida State. In four years with the Seminoles, he totaled 126 tackles (9.5 for a loss), one sack and four interceptions. Brooks could line up anywhere and make an impact. He was thought of as a versatile player. That’s why the Ravens spent a third round pick on him. Ozzie Newsome saw a talent that he had to have.
Brooks has been tentative as a safety with the Ravens. Instead of flying around he has played flat-footed. A great example of this was in the 2014 showdown with the New Orleans Saints. Brooks could have had an interception if he had been aggressive. Instead he waited for the football to come to him. Jimmy Graham leaped up and made a play, for New Orleans.
With Brooks, talent is not the question. It has been grasping the defense. It has been the fundamentals of the game. Brooks moved around recklessly at Florida State. In the pros, that confidence, just isn’t there.
It makes you think that this is a coaching problem. Talent should shine on the field. Instead talent is being wasted. In the NFL, your thinking must be done Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, you must trust your preparation, read and react. If things are too complicated for young players to grasp, that’s a problem.
The Ravens traded up to get Arthur Brown in the second round. The linebacker from Kansas State, was supposed to be a speedy force for the Ravens defense. With an opening at inside linebacker, Brown isn’t expected to fill it. Brown has struggled. Despite having athletic ability that rivals very few, Brown has not given the Ravens much to believe in. In fact Kamalei Correa and Zach Orr have a better chance of being Daryl Smith’s replacement.
The Ravens also drafted John Simon in the 2013 NFL Draft. They quickly gave up on Simon. It looks like the Ravens were wrong about this player though. Simon has become a starter for the Houston Texans. He had five sacks in eight starts last season.
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There is a good chunk of evidence, that suggests the Ravens struggle to develop young talent. When one college standout fails with the Ravens, it is a draft bust. When several players do it, you have to see it as a trend. There is a pattern here. It’s getting harder and harder to deny. The Ravens must do a better job with player development.