With the departure of two beloved future Hall of Famers from their defense — linebacker Ray Lewis to retirement, safety Ed Reed to the Houston Texans — the Ravens had holes to fill at both positions during the first round of last night's NFL Draft.
With the final selection of the first round, the Ravens ultimately skipped on controversial Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and instead took versatile, hard-hitting Florida safety Matt Elam. In reality, recently acquired safety Michael Huff, who the Ravens signed from Oakland, will take over Reed's spot at free safey and Elam will compete to replace Bernard Pollard (who the Ravens let go after the Super Bowl win) at strong safety, but the bottom line is the Ravens decided to shore up their secondary.
The other big Baltimore draft news last night was the selection of former Dunbar star Tavon Austin, by way of West Virginia University, by the St. Louis Rams with the eighth overall selection.
Considered the most dynamic offensive threat in the draft, the 5-8, 172-pound Austin, who posted a 4.34 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine, accounted for 2,910 all-purpose yards last season — the fourth most in NCAA history.
Austin set a number of Maryland state records while at Dundbar, including most points scored in a career (790), most touchdowns scored (123), and most rushing yards in a career (7,460).
Coincidentally, Elam will likely have to cover Austin on the field this season — albeit in a preseason game — Aug. 29, when the Ravens travel to St. Louis.