Ravens Identified as ‘Best NFL Team Fit’ for Top-5 Prospect

Ravens Kyle Hamilton

Getty Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton returns a safety during a November 2019 game.

The Baltimore Ravens may have the 14th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but they might consider a trade into the top 10 to select a highly-coveted prospect at a position of need.

While a Ravens trade-up would most likely bring one of the draft’s top three offensive tackles – North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu would be an ideal scheme fit – they could also look for a defensive playmaker in Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton.

Conor McQuiston of Pro Football Focus listed Hamilton as the 2022 draft prospect that best fits the Ravens, who have targeted versatile defensive backs like Brandon Stephens in recent drafts.

“During his last season at Notre Dame, [Hamilton] spent 20% of his snaps in the box, 27% as a deep safety and 51% in the slot,” wrote McQuiston. “Coupling this extreme versatility with his athletic numbers reported by Bruce Feldman in his annual “Freaks List,” there is plenty of reason to believe he can do anything a defense asks him.”

But unlike 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh, whose ridiculous physical abilities overcame his sack-less final season at Penn State, Hamilton has a proven track record as a defensive playmaker.

The Atlanta native tallied 24 pass breakups and eight interceptions in 31 games at Notre Dame, with a run defense stuff rate that “ranked 39th among all 348 defensive backs that have been drafted since 2015,” per McQuiston.

Hamilton is an especially good fit in Baltimore with new Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who McQuiston called “one of the more creative defensive minds in football.”

The Notre Dame standout’s ability to play in either single-high or split-safety looks, as well as in the slot, would allow him to line up all over the Ravens’ defensive backfield.


Hamilton Unlikely to Fall to Ravens

Hamilton’s status as one of the draft’s best prospects makes it almost impossible that he’ll even be available to the Ravens at 14.

“For the Ravens to realistically acquire him, they would need to trade up into the top 10, breaking a decade-long trend where their only first-round trade-up was to snag Lamar Jackson at pick No. 32 in 2018,” wrote McQuiston.

Baltimore’s desire to build quality depth might prevent them from giving up additional draft picks to move into the top 10, especially to draft a safety. But if Hamilton is available at 14, it’s tough to see the Ravens abandon their best-player-available approach in the draft.

A somewhat lackluster 40-yard dash time is unlikely to crater Hamilton’s draft stock out of the top 10, though it was far behind that of another potential future Raven, Daxton Hill, who played under Mike Macdonald at Michigan.

 

But the rest of Hamilton’s combine performance served as a reminder of why he’s such a highly-coveted prospect, making him a long-shot to land in Baltimore.


Hamilton Can Do It All

Still, it’s tantalizing to imagine a safety with Hamilton’s capabilities in Baltimore. He has excellent range in zone coverage, with plenty of ball skills at the catch point.

He could be the deep free safety that the Ravens currently lack, though that’s just scratching the surface of his potential. His range isn’t limited to dropping back in coverage; he can also impact the run game even when lined up almost 10 yards off the line of scrimmage.

His ability to play downhill against the run will be valued by the Ravens, who finished the 2021 season as the league’s best run defense despite consistent tackling woes.

But Hamilton is a generational safety prospect because he can truly take on any role, especially against opposing passing offenses. He’s comfortable in man coverage, especially out of the slot, but can cover massive swaths of the field in zone as well.

 

And if Hamilton wasn’t already a fit for the Ravens, his special teams prowess would certainly attract the attention of head coach John Harbaugh, who began his career as a special teams coach.

Hamilton has the potential to be the Baltimore’s best safety since Hall of Famer Ed Reed, but there’s virtually no chance he’ll far fall enough to play for the Ravens.

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