After a strong finish to his rookie year, expectations for Baltimore Ravens’ second-year safety Kyle Hamilton are extremely high heading into the 2023 season.
The No. 14 overall pick out Notre Dame finished the 2022 season as the top graded safety according to Pro Football Focus. He is making the transition from playing a hybrid nickel role back to being a full-time safety. Hamilton and veteran Marcus Williams are expected to be interchangeable and provide the Ravens defense with schematic flexibility.
Passing game coordinator/secondary coach Chris Hewitt told media on Tuesday that he expects Hamilton to be a “Pro Bowl-type player this year.”
“That’s the goal ultimately – Pro Bowl, Super Bowl – all [of] that,” Hamilton said. “I have high expectations for myself, for the team, and I feel like we can make all of them come true.”
He believes that the Ravens are one of if not the deepest team in the league “top to bottom” with Pro Bowl talent across the roster.
“I feel like I’m at a Pro Bowl practice every day,” Hamilton said. “[I] just look around, and there’s guys everywhere.”
One of his teammates on the opposite side of the ball that he enjoys matching up with is three-time Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews.
“He’s one of the best, if not the best [in his] position in the league,” Hamilton said. “I see why on a day-to-day basis. Even guys like Zay [Flowers], getting able to tackle Zay in an open field or just being in position, there’s not a lot of guys in the league that can stop and start like he can. So, it helps us in the secondary to come out and tackle.”
Hewitt acknowledged that early on last year Hamilton experienced growing pains while the defensive coaching staff was still figuring out the best way to deploy him. With a year of experience under his belt and another offseason of learning, he has noticed the growth in his game.
“He’s ahead of the plays this year,” Hewitt said. “He’s ahead of the formations, down and distances and knows really how to play now. We’ll see big things from Kyle.”
Despite essentially playing out of position for the best stretch of his rookie season, Hamilton still managed to finish with 62 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, five pass breakups, and a forced fumble.
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“I think that being in that role I was last year – being the nickel – I think it helps now because now we have that card in our back pocket if we need to play it,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton is confident that positional flexibility that both he and Williams possess will be a tremendous asset for the defense.
“I think it helps because I think we both offer a lot of things that we both do pretty well,” Hamilton said. “Whether that [is] playing in the post, being rangy or being able to come down and hit. I don’t think there’s necessarily like a free or strong safety when it comes to us. I think we’re both pretty interchangeable when it comes to that, so it kind of keeps the quarterback on his toes because he doesn’t know who’s going to be playing what, who’s going to be blitzing, who’s going to be covering, all of that kind of stuff.”
Hamilton also shared that the most significant strides he’s made is from a mental standpoint, where he feels like “two completely different people” compared to last year.
“It’s a big difference from last year, and I feel like that was the biggest step I’ve taken,” Hamilton said. “Not even physically, just mentally being able to lead out there with calls and checks and stuff like that.”