The Baltimore Ravens drafted hybrid safety, Kyle Hamilton, with the 14th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Hamilton was praised as one of the draft’s top prospects and many had felt that the Ravens got a steal given Hamilton’s talent. However, since being drafted, there has been little hype surrounding Hamilton during the off-season, and he appeared to struggle in his first few starts.
Over the first three games, Hamilton has accumulated 10 total tackles and made a crucial forced fumble against the New England Patriots which preserved Baltimore’s lead. The Ravens were able to hold onto their lead and ultimately beat the Patriots, 37-26.
Kyle Hamilton is Earning Himself More Playing Time
Hamilton’s Early Struggles
In the pre-draft process, Hamilton’s stock fell drastically due to many teams believing he lacked real elite athleticism. At Notre Dame, he was vulnerable against deep balls and often took inefficient tackling angles toward ball carriers. He also failed to demonstrate the necessary hip fluidity to defend against receivers in man coverage. With that said, Hamilton’s merits came in his big play ability and superb football IQ.
As a deep-lying safety, Hamilton excelled in predicting the development of plays and showed great ball skills. On top of that, he flashed his talent as a secure tackler who could lay big hits. Perhaps the most appealing part of Hamilton’s game was his freakish athleticism for his size. It meant that, at the college level, he was used as a hybrid defender that played linebacker and safety.
Kyle Hamilton is PFF’s highest graded rookie safety through 3 weeks 👀
Hamilton has taken 80 coverage snaps and has only allowed 55 total yards 🔒 pic.twitter.com/XhsR8HWbER
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) September 27, 2022
Since joining the Ravens, Hamilton’s learning curve has been steeper than expected. As such, the Ravens have opted to primarily deploy Hamilton as a deep safety. Hamilton’s struggles were evident in the 42-38 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. Hamilton was beaten deep by Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on multiple occasions. As a result, he was at fault for multiple touchdowns. His teething problems were clear in Week 1 against the New York Jets, but they became an issue in Week 2.
Hamilton Proves Worth Versus the New England Patriots
With many blaming Hamilton for his part in Baltimore’s collapse against Miami, Hamilton was relegated to a more minor role against New England. He played just 24% of the defensive snaps and 74% of the special teams ones. For reference, he had previously played 54% of the defensive snaps against Miami.
With his reduced role, Hamilton could focus more on his own tasks at hand and played a very good game. 14 of his 16 total snaps against New England were coverage snaps and he allowed just 10 yards on those. His clutch forced fumble was the ultimate reward for his hard work and strong performance. While chasing Nelson Agholor, Hamilton was able to prevent a big game as he chopped the ball out.
Kyle Hamilton FORCES THE FUMBLE 😱
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 25, 2022
Hamilton’s reduced, yet impactful role against the Patriots demonstrated progress. In Week 1 and 2, he was far less assured, but in Week 3, he showed much more composure and tact. The Notre Dame man still has a long way to go, but he has earned the right to play more snaps against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4 after redeeming himself against the Patriots. With the Bills boasting one of the best offenses in the league, starring Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, the young Ravens secondary will need to rise to the challenge and prove that the Miami collapse was an anomaly.
More improvements and consistency for Hamilton are necessary and inevitable. However, with his most recent performance, Kyle Hamilton is earning himself more game time. Once Hamilton becomes more familiar with the NFL intensity and Baltimore defensive system, the Ravens will have one of the best safety tandems in the league given how well Marcus Williams is performing. He will also be able to flex his versatility when he is more experienced.