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Ravens take Matt Elam to close first round 04.25.13 at 11:47 pm ET
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The Ravens closed out the first round of this year’s NFL Draft by taking Florida safety Matt Elam with the 32nd overall pick. Elam models his game after Ed Reed, who left Baltimore to sign with the Texans in free agency.

Prior to the pick, the Rams took Georgia inside linebacker Alec Ogletree with pick No. 30, while Wisconsin center Travis Frederick went 31st overall to the Cowboys.

Ogletree likely wouldn’t have fallen as far as he did were it not for character issues, as he reportedly didn’t make a good impression at the combine regarding his DUI during the pre-draft process. Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o was not selected in the first round.

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Good draft for defensive backs, offensive line and wide receiver, according to Patriots personnel chief Nick Caserio 04.22.13 at 1:27 pm ET
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Matt Elam (AP)

Matt Elam (AP)

FOXBORO — If you’re looking for a versatile defensive back, this is a good draft, according to Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio.

In his pre-draft press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday afternoon, Caserio was asked about some positions that might stand out above the rest when it comes to positions of strength in this year’s draft. Caserio singled out the elite defensive backs this year — particularly their versatility — as well as offensive line and wide receiver.

“There’s a lot of good productive players,” he said. “I think the secondary is an area, both the corners and the safety position. I think one of the things that is probably unique about that position is you’ve seen more players who have actually played multiple positions. Some have played safety. Some have played corner. Some have played the nickel position like the Matt Elam kid, so there’s versatile players in the defensive backfield. They’re not necessarily confined to one particular spot, which that probably speaks to the evolution.

“You’re looking for guys that are versatile, can play multiple spots, and some of those players have played in more passing-oriented divisions and conferences, the SEC with some of the spread offenses and those types of things. I think there’s some depth. I think there’s some versatility at that position.

“The offensive line is a good group. There’s some good players in that group, and there are a fair amount of receivers in that group as well. I would say every year we talk about the same thing. There are going to be more players at certain positions relative to others. That’s just the way it goes. You don’t necessarily evaluate the players any differently than you do on a year-to-year basis.”

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Florida safety Matt Elam 04.07.13 at 7:13 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Matt Elam (AP)

During his two seasons at Florida, Matt Elam (right) came up big in the Gators’ most important games. (AP)

MATT ELAM

Position: Safety

School: Florida

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 208 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-America first team (AP, Sporting News, SI.com, CBSSports.com), 2012 All-America second team (Walter Camp), 2012 All-SEC first team (AP, coaches)

What he brings: Despite being on the smaller side for his position, Elam has impressed with his playmaking ability, athleticism and timing. He shone especially in big games against rivals like Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee in his two years as a starter. He’s physical given his size but doesn’t rely only on his strength, utilizing his sense of timing and anticipation to knock away passes at the last second or avoid blocks. CBS Sports calls his lateral agility “good, but not great” and says he sometimes leaves his feet and lunges to make hits, but notes that overall he’s an instinctive, versatile player, the kind who could thrive at the NFL level.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: Elam made 26 starts at safety during his time at Florida, where he appeared in 39 total games. He had 176 tackles, 23.5 tackles for losses, 13 pass breakups, six interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He was voted a team captain in 2012, but he also has had minor encounters with the police regarding alcohol possession offenses, in July 2010 and July 2011.

Related articles: Palm Beach Post: Florida junior safety Matt Elam could be bound for NFL draft

Cleveland.com: Florida’s Matt Elam learned about life from his brother Abe

St. Louis Rams: Florida S Matt Elam Speaks

Video: Here’s a look at Elam vs. LSU in 2012.

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Will Matt Elam be the next Gator in New England? 02.24.13 at 1:17 pm ET
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Florida safety Matt Elam models his game after Ed Reed. (AP)

Florida safety Matt Elam models his game after Ed Reed. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — The Patriots need help in the secondary any way they can get it, whether at corner or safety, so the idea of a guy who was recruited by Urban Meyer and tries to play like Ed Reed would have to be in Bill Belichick’s wheelhouse.

Florida’s Matt Elam, the younger brother of Chiefs safety Abram Elam, fits the bill there. Though he hasn’t met with the Patriots yet, the rangy and versatile defensive back should get a good look from the Pats as they determine how to spend the 29th overall pick.

Elam hits hard and covers a lot of ground despite not being the biggest guy at 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds. He figures to be the second safety off the board behind Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro on draft day, but Elam feels confident that he’s this draft’s premier safety.

“I play very hard, and I love to strike people,” he said. “I feel like that’s what helps me stand out the most. I’m very versatile. I can cover slot receivers, I can go down and cover, I can go in the [tackle box], I can play in the post. I feel like that makes me stand out the most.”

Elam has former Gator safeties to look up to (Reggie Nelson among them), but he models his game after Reid, a Miami product who has been linked to the Patriots should he not return to the Ravens.

“I watch film on Ed Reed all the time, every week,” he said. “I look forward to [watching] him all the time.”

Although Meyer’s days in Gainesville are in the past, one should never overlook the connection between his guys and the Patriots. With mixed results, Bill Belichick brought on Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham and Aaron Hernandez in 2010, among other Gators that have landed in Foxboro in recent years.

“When they come back, I always talk to those guys about [the NFL],” Elam said of his former teammates currently playing in Foxboro. “They tell me it’s a different league. A lot of bigger and tougher guys, faster guys, but that’s expected. That’s why I go out to work every day.

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