As the Ravens' top draft pick this year, Kyle Hamilton wanted to make a good first impression at rookie minicamp. He accomplished that goal, moving around the secondary like a player who felt comfortable in his surroundings.
Hamilton doesn't pretend that it will be easy making the jump from Notre Dame to the NFL, but the 14th-overall pick is eager for the challenge. The Ravens have big plans for Hamilton as a versatile safety they can use in multiple ways, and that means he has plenty to learn between now and Week 1.
"It's definitely challenging," Hamilton said. "Even the stuff we're doing right now, where I'm just learning both safety spots is challenging. It's the NFL – that's what guys get paid to do. So, I'm up for the task, but I'm just going to rely on coaches and vets to help me out, whether that be playbook stuff or mentally how to navigate the game and the play. Yes, it's going to be a challenge, but I'm ready for it."
Hamilton is getting his first look at the Ravens' defensive system, and can already see the difference.
"Pretty different from Notre Dame, I would say – communication-wise, obviously terminology-wise," Hamilton said. "We didn't run a lot of Cover 3 at Notre Dame, and pretty much, that's most of what we've been doing here so far. Obviously, it's a vanilla version of it, because we're kind of just getting a taste. But yes, it's fairly different, but there's still a lot of defense to learn."
Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald surprised Hamilton early in practice by talking to him through the microphoned helmet that the rookie safety was wearing. Hamilton didn't realize that Macdonald's voice would be in his headset.
"They didn't give me a warning," Hamilton said with a chuckle. "Coach Macdonald said something, and … I had a jump scare, because I didn't know that he was going to be talking to me just yet. But I got used to it. The first time I heard it, I had no clue what he was saying. Now, I can kind of identify it pretty quickly. So, it's a pretty cool nuance to NFL football that I appreciate for sure."
Hamilton plans to soak up his rookie experience day by day, eager to learn and not burdened by expectations.
"I'm poised to leave whatever mark I will," Hamilton said. "Hopefully, it's a good one. I'm pretty confident that it will be, but I'm just excited to be here and be able to perform for a great franchise like this."
Harbaugh Envisions Chuck Clark Staying in Baltimore
Signing Marcus Williams in free agency and drafting Hamilton has dramatically changed the Ravens' look at safety. That has raised speculation about the status of Chuck Clark, a respected veteran on Baltimore's defense who has been a starter the past three years.
Harbaugh said he envisions Clark remaining with the Ravens.
"The idea is to have as many good players as you can have and have them in the right spots and the right roles," Harbaugh said. "I love the fact that we have very versatile players in the backend and at safety. So, to me, Chuck is a big part of this team, and I'm planning on Chuck being here. I'm not going to worry about all the other stuff. It's part of pro football, I understand it. But I love Chuck Clark, I love the way he plays, and I'm very happy that he's a Raven."
Marcell Dareus and Geronimo Allison Tryout
Harbaugh mentioned that defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and wide receiver Geronimo Allison were among the veterans who participated in Saturday's practice on a tryout basis.
Allison caught 89 passes for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns during four seasons with the Packers. He sat out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns and played sparingly for the Lions last season with one catch in three games.
Dareus was the third-overall pick by the Bills in 2011 and is a two-time Pro Bowler who made first team All-Pro in 2014. Dareus has not seen NFL game action since playing six games for the Jaguars in 2019, but he is still only 32 years old and looking for another opportunity. The Ravens signed Michael Pierce in free agency, re-signed Calais Campbell and drafted Travis Jones in the third round, but Derek Wolfe (back/hip) missed all of last season and the Ravens love having defensive line depth.
"Marcell Dareus is out here working out. You've heard of him, right?" Harbaugh said. "I mean, gosh, he's out he working out, and he even says, 'Coach, I'm learning stuff out here.' You're always learning. As a coach, I've been doing it, I think, 36 years now, and you can't believe every day that you learn something."
Tall Wide Receivers Getting Close Look
There's a tall flavor to the undrafted wide receiver class at rookie minicamp. Five of the six undrafted rookies who saw action Saturday are at least 6-foot-2 – Devon Williams of Oregon (6-foot-5), Shemar Bridges of Fort Valley State (6-foot-4), Trevon Clark of California (6-foot-3), Makai Polk of Mississippi State (6-foot-3) and Raleigh Webb of The Citadel (6-foot-2). The lone exception is 5-foot-11 receiver Slade Bolden of Alabama.
The Ravens wouldn't mind giving Lamar Jackson another big target, and Harbaugh said the stature of the wide receivers at minicamp was not a coincidence.
"That wouldn't just happen," Harbaugh said. "We were looking for the bigger guys, and we found some guys. Guys wanted to come here. I know that runs counter to some of the stories that you read out here, but guys wanted to come here. I think we have a great crop of free agent wide receivers, because they saw the opportunity."