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Late for Work: Pundit Says Kyle Hamilton Is One of Top Three Defensive Players in NFL

S Kyle Hamilton
S Kyle Hamilton

Pundit Says Kyle Hamilton Is One of Top Three Defensive Players in NFL

The Ravens lost key players and multiple coaches from last season's No. 1 scoring defense, but the unit still figures to be among the NFL's elite in 2024.

The Ringer's Diante Lee put the Ravens at No. 2 in his rankings of the 10 best defenses for the coming season on “The Ringer NFL Show” podcast. One of the main reasons Lee is high on the Ravens defense is the all-around play of All-Pro safety Kyle Hamilton.

"They might have the greatest chess piece in the NFL defensively in Kyle Hamilton," Lee said. "The way that they're able to weaponize him specifically in this defense, it's different than everything else in the league. … If you put him at the nickel, he can be the best nickel player in coverage, he can be the best nickel player as a blitzer, he can be the best nickel player as a run defender. That's different, and that's not even talking about what he can be deep down the field."

The Ringer's Steven Ruiz also praised Hamilton, ranking him as the third-best defensive player in the league, behind edge rushers Micah Parsons and Myles Garrett. Lee agreed and cited Hamilton as a prime example of the Ravens valuing versatile players "in a way that is lost on a lot of other defenses and franchises in roster building."

Lee said the Ravens' long-standing defensive philosophy is another reason why he believes the group will remain dominant under new Defensive Coordinator Zach Orr, even without standouts such as Jadeveon Clowney, Patrick Queen, and Geno Stone.

"I'm still confident in what they are because the core pieces outside of defensive coordinator are all there. And for as much as I think Mike Macdonald transformed what they did, what they do defensively tracks all the way back to Marvin Lewis being there as a defensive coach," Lee said. "There's an infrastructure there, and that's another piece of it for me that I try to consider, if there's a clear structure as to how they build. And Baltimore has a clear vision in how they build.

"It's getting strong up the middle; they don't prioritize edge rushers; and then what they do on the back end in terms of changing coverages. … When they need to pressure, they can. When they need to play soft coverage, they can. They were actually very good in man coverage. And they did all this without having a top-flight edge rusher, which speaks to me about what they are schematically and why I feel so good about what they can do. And you have [linebacker] Roquan Smith in the middle who has just been a problem-eraser for them from the moment that they traded for him. I have no reason not to believe that they're still going to be a top two-to-three defense."

Is John Harbaugh the Next Head Coach in Line for Contract Extension?

With Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin signing a three-year contract extension this week, The Draft Network’s Justin Melo identified the coaches who could be next in line for an extension.

Unsurprisingly, John Harbaugh was one of them.

"The franchise has been the epitome of consistency throughout his tenure, clinching 11 playoff appearances in 16 opportunities," Melo wrote. "Harbaugh remains in the prime of his coaching career.

"The Ravens signed Harbaugh to an extension through 2025 before the 2022 season. In 2023, Harbaugh led the franchise to a 13-4 first-place finish in the AFC, a wonderful campaign that culminated with a defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Harbaugh technically possesses two years remaining on his latest extension, but there's no legitimate reason for General Manager Eric DeCosta to let Harbaugh enter a contract season in 2025."

Harbaugh is the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL, trailing Tomlin by one year. Andy Reid, the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs since 2013, is the only other head coach to be with his current team for at least 10 years.

Veterans Roquan Smith and Mark Andrews Setting the Tone at Minicamp

Among the takeaways from yesterday's minicamp is how locked in Smith and tight end Mark Andrews are.

"Even during practices, Smith continues to be the tone-setter for Baltimore's defense," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "After the Ravens broke up into their position groups, Smith led the inside linebackers through their first drill. As he powered through a blocking pad, he yelled, 'I love this s—.' Smith doesn't have an 'off' button, even in practice. He was active all afternoon, intercepting Lamar Jackson late in practice and returning the ball close to the end zone.

"The offensive tone-setter this time of year is Andrews, who puts extreme importance on every play. In the first 90 minutes of practice, Andrews got after one of the referees after defensive back Tre Swilling wasn't flagged for pass interference. Andrews and Harbaugh exchanged words about the tempo of the offense. Andrews also made several plays. Per usual, he was Jackson's favorite target throughout practice."

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