Who was the steal of the 2022 NFL Draft?
By: Jake Rajala
The former Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton surprised John Harbaugh when he was available for BAL to snatch at 14th overall. The Notre Dame royalty will be a valuable asset to the Ravens secondary that currently features Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Marcus Williams. It wouldn’t be a total surprise if the Ravens flexed the top pass defense in the NFL with Hamilton in their defensive unit.
Hamilton was a special draft prospect, to say the least. Hamilton notched three interceptions, two sacks, and 34 tackles in seven games in 2021. The 21-year-old was the eighth-best prospect on Pro Football Focus’s big board. His combination of size, versatility, and production made him a special draft profile. Hamilton has been often compared to the mythical Kam Chancellor.
Hamilton was projected to be selected by many teams in the Top 12 of the draft, such as Atlanta, Carolina, and Washington. Yet, Hamilton fell in the Ravens hands outside of the Top 12. The Hamilton selection by the Ravens was an enormous reason why CBS Sports dubbed the Ravens as one of the main draft winners. It was obvious that the fact that Hamilton slid to pick 14 wasn’t as surprising that Malik Willis fell to the Titans in the third round, but it was still bizarre that the Ravens were able to add another elite chess piece to their pass defense in Hamilton.
The rookie safety can be a key factor in imminent, prime-time matchups against key AFC contenders like Buffalo, Kansas City, and Cincinnati. The Ravens can’t rely on Lamar Jackson unveiling miracle 2-minute performances in the AFC playoffs. Joe Flacco won Super Bowl MVP as a Raven, but his defense put the most steam in the engine in their successful 2012-2013 road to the big dance. Perhaps Hamilton can be a noticeable spark to the Ravens defense and the Ravens can be the next darkhorse AFC team to play in the Super Bowl.