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From Rookie Tryout to Playmaker, Jaylen Hill Is Earning His Spot


Not only did Jaylen Hill not get drafted. He didn't even get any phone calls immediately after the draft.

Eventually, the Ravens called to offer Hill a tryout at rookie minicamp, but he was a longshot among longshots.

Since then, Hill has done nothing but impress. And now he's done so much that he has a strong case to make the Ravens' 53-man roster.

Hill made his second interception in three preseason games in Saturday night's 13-9 win over the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium. His interception set up the Ravens' only touchdown of the game.

"He's a young guy, just like any other young player, but he has come up with a big play every game so far," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

Hill is accustomed to beating the odds. He was originally a walk-on at small-school Jacksonville State. The 6-foot-0, 175-pound cornerback eventually became a three-year starter and led his team with six interceptions last season.

"Guys try to find a way to make plays. I remember watching him in college – his stats and his tape – and he did just that," Harbaugh said. "To see it translate to this level in the preseason is a big plus. I'm happy with him."

Hill started standing out in practices when he was frequently getting his hands on passes. In the Ravens' first preseason game against the Washington Redskins, he picked off backup quarterback Colt McCoy on a deep pass to the sideline that Hill had sized-up the whole way.

Hill's interception against the Bills came in a different coverage. This time he was in a Cover-2 zone. As Bills quarterback T.J. Yates rolled to his right, Hill dropped deeper into coverage and cut in front of the intended target.

He returned the interception 12 yards, setting the offense up 15 yards away from the end zone. Three plays later, the Ravens took a 10-7 lead.

When the Ravens brought Hill in for his tryout, they told him they kept him because of the way he didn't back down from anybody. Hill matched up against bigger-name undrafted rookie wide receivers Tim White and Quincy Adeboyejo and held his own.

Now on a much bigger stage, Hill continues to do the same.

"It just lets you know that everybody has to prove themselves every day," Hill said. "You can't go off the name of somebody or who they are and where they come from. Everybody comes from different situations, but you have to go out there every day, every down and every play.

"It never stops. Even after this, when we go to New Orleans, I have to prove myself again. It is good that I can make these plays for my team, but you have to prove yourself every down and every play."

When it comes to making the 53-man roster, the cornerbacks with a guaranteed roster spot are Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey and Maurice Canady (possible injured reserve to return). Hill's primary competition is likely Sheldon Price, but the numbers look to be in Hill's favor.

Hill was asked if he's done enough to make the team.

"I don't know. I don't just that," he said. "I want to really bad."

Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Bills in week 3 of the 2017 Preseason.

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