A typical response to every NFL Draft cycle is to praise the Baltimore Ravens organization for their inevitably wonderful draft. Often enough, hindsight proves that to be accurate. The 2022 NFL Draft has been no different in its initial reaction, including to their first-round selection of safety Kyle Hamilton, who has been regarded as a steal at 14th overall.
The general perception is that Hamilton ‘fell’ to the middle of the first round because of his relatively slow 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine, but 40 times are something Baltimore has never allowed to turn them off of a prospect when the tape contradicts it, and they believed it did in his case.
“You look at his game speed, what you see on tape. He’s covering ground”, said director of player personnel, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “He’s flying up. He’s showing bursts. He’s showing explosiveness and range. Then you look at your grade, your speed grade, and you have a good grade, and it all matches up, and just the 40 didn’t match up”.
The Ravens took Hamilton even though they signed Marcus Williams in free agency and return Chuck Clark as their other starter. Indeed, many questions have since been asked about whether or not they will move Clark. But they didn’t feel they could pass on a player like Hamilton.
“He’s like a chess piece”, Hortiz added. “So, you see that, and you’re fired up that you get a chance to take him at [Pick] 14 and that he fell to you. That’s why you just think he’s going to be gone, because he’s a playmaker at multiple different levels of a defense”.
One thing the Ravens are still looking for on the defensive side of the football, however, is more pass-rush help. They project to start second-year first-round pick Odafe Oweh next to Tyus Bowser, who is not about to make any Pro Bowls. They did recently place an unrestricted free agent tender on Justin Houston, who was on their roster a year ago.
Inserting a piece like Hamilton into the defense, however, will provide a lot of options for nuance, including on the blitz, which is certainly an assignment he will be willing and able to execute, and he would probably spend a lot of time as a roving piece in the nickel defense, rather than as a full-time starter in one locked-down position.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, meanwhile, re-signed Terrell Edmunds, but they also signed Damontae Kazee just after the draft, so…there’s that. I suppose they also have Minkah Fitzpatrick. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.