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Monday, June 16, 2014
Poll results: Making sophomore jump

By Jamison Hensley

Safety Matt Elam will make the biggest improvement of any Baltimore Ravens second-year player. Well, that's according to a recent SportsNation poll.

Of the 1,161 votes, 59 percent went with Elam for taking the most significant sophomore jump. A first-round pick from a year ago, Elam was the only rookie draft pick to start last season for the Ravens, but he didn't consistently make plays because he played out of position at free safety. He has moved to strong safety this year and has embraced a leadership role.

Elam was the runaway winner in the poll. Wide receiver Marlon Brown finished a distant second at 17 percent.

Here are some selected comments from readers:

Peter (New Orleans): Matt Elam is the obvious choice because he'll be able to play to his strengths this year, and he can really fill his intended role. But in terms of a pure leap from last year, Rick Wagner and Brandon Williams are have the biggest opportunity to fill a starting role that was not vacant when they were drafted. Of the two, Wagner seems to have a lot of support from the coaches and perhaps a bit less competition.

Robb (Bel Air, Md.): Matt Elam will likely show the most improvement among second-year players, mainly because of position and circumstance. Marlon Brown and Arthur Brown (and to a lesser extent, Rick Wagner and Brandon Williams) may miss out on significant improvements because of upgrades at their respective positions. Elam returns to his natural strong safety slot with a year of Sunday experience under him -- a recipe for success that did similar wonders for Kelechi Osemele.

Ryan (Boston): An argument can easily be made for all five of these guys. But word out of OTAs is Marlon Brown has become Steve Smith's shadow. With all of the attention around the newly acquired pass catchers, Brown is flying under the radar and could have a big year.

Jared (Texas): I believe the hope is Matt Elam will be the most improved player because the big glaring weakness at secondary and the lack of depth, especially at safety. However, the most improved player from last year will be linebacker Arthur Brown. He showed flashes of speed, quickness, and play making ability last pre season. A year under his belt and a full off season to get on page with Dean Pees will pay off. I think the tandem of him and Mosely as the future of the Ravens' inside linebackers is a bright spot for this team's future.