Even though he is heading into just his second year in the league and the first as the full-time starter, Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton is expected to take a major leap in 2023. The team’s top pick from a year ago has been featured on several breakout candidates lists from numerous local and national media outlets after he came on strong to close out his rookie season.
In a July 27th article, Hamilton was listed as the second-best safety in the league by Heavy Sports’ NFL insider Matt Lombardo and was second only to three-time All-Pro Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Ravens’ division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Few defensive rookies made the impact on their teams that Kyle Hamilton did for the Baltimore Ravens last season, playing his way onto the PFWA All-Rookie team, while showing flashes of potential yet to be reached,” Lombardo wrote. “Hamilton burst onto the scene and up the rankings of the top safeties in the NFL, after being chosen No. 14 overall, and logging 62 total tackles with a pair of sacks, four tackles for loss, and one forced fumble.”
He praised the dynamic defensive back for having a “balanced skill set” and “outstanding instincts in coverage” and believes that he plays in a system under Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald that “should allow him to flourish.”
“It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see Hamilton wind up the Ravens’ best all-around defensive player in 2023 and one of the top players at his position,” Lombardo wrote.
Kyle Hamilton Is Taking a ‘Commanding Presence’ in Secondary
Most players make their biggest strides from year one to year two and thus far the early portion of training camp, Hamilton appears to be poised to do the same in the eyes of his primary play-caller.
“The tempo right now prevents us from really making plays on the ball, but in games, I think you’re going to be able to see that he’s going to be able to get back there, and I think you see his range during practice,” Macdonald said.
Many players often compare making the transition from the collegiate level to the pros to drinking through a firehose as rookies before adjusting to the speed of the game in their second seasons in beyond.
“The game’s slowing down for him for sure,” Macdonald said. “He’s taking a commanding presence back there making calls, so [I’m] very pleased with where he’s at.”
Hamilton’s new full-time running mate in the backend is veteran free safety Marcus Williams and he’s been impressed with his continued progression on and off the field after just one year in the league.
“Since he was a rookie, he’s always been getting better,” Williams said. “He’s continuing to get better in the film room, out on the field, getting more comfortable, playing together, side by side. So, as long as he continues to focus, lock in, and come out here and do all he can to work, I think he’s going to be great.”
Williams Says He Hasn’t Even ‘Peaked’ Yet
Macdonald shared that the Ravens ask and expect their players in the defensive backfield to “have production on the football” and with three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters officially off the market and with a new team, the underrated veteran defensive back is the best ballhawk on the team.
He was off to a torrid start to the 2022 season with three interceptions in the first two games of the year. Even after a dislocated wrist caused him to miss seven games, Williams still finished as the team’s interceptions leader with four which tied for his career high in the season where played the fewest amount of games.
Despite being widely recognized in league circles as one of the best players at his position, Williams has yet to receive any of the notable recognition such as making a First or Second All-Pro Team, getting voted to Pro Bowl, or even cracking the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players list during the first five years of his career.
“There’s always more for me,” Williams said. “There’s always that next step that I could take. I’m not finished being the best person I could be. I haven’t peaked. I’m still working, I’m still young, and I’m trying to be better than every single person who steps out on the field.”
He made one of the most impressive plays in training camp thus far last Thursday when he punched the ball out of the grasp of All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews right after he made the reception and just before he could get upfield.
“The ability to make that play without going through and [making] the tackle – going through the receiver like he normally would, with a legal hit – he did it in a way where he didn’t touch Mark at all,” head coach John Harbaugh said on July 27, 2023. “That’s pretty darn good.”
Ravens three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey told reporters on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, that he has “noticed a change” in Williams coming into his second year on the team in terms of being a more vocal leader and better communicator to the other members of the secondary.
“Every day we just work to get better,” Williams said. “Each day I work to perfect my craft and do those little things by communicating, being a leader out there. [I’m] just talking to my guys, and as you see, we all come together. We make plays, and that’s just going to help us all get better.”