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Late for Work 6/17: Why Kyle Hamilton Might Have Been the Best Pick of the Draft

061722-LFW
S Kyle Hamilton

Why Kyle Hamilton Might Have Been the Best Pick of the Draft

It's been seven weeks since the Ravens selected Kyle Hamilton with the 14th-overall pick, and the NFL world is still trying to figure out how the 6-foot-4, 220-pound safety was still on the board when Baltimore was on the clock.

The consensus is that the Ravens getting Hamilton when they did was a steal. However, The Ringer's Ben Solak said Hamilton is more than just a great value pick. Solak contends that Hamilton might have been the best pick of the draft, period.

"Hamilton could be more than just another in a long line of good Ravens draft picks," Solak said. "He could be a lynchpin to their new defensive approach and a watershed pick in a league that's currently changing how it views the safety position."

The new defensive approach Solak is referring to is the shift from former Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's penchant for sending pressure and playing man coverage to new Defensive Coordinator's Mike Macdonald's penchant for simulated pressure and playing a variety of coverages.

That translates to having three safeties on the field, which explains why the Ravens drafted Hamilton when they already had returning starter Chuck Clark and marquee free-agent acquisition Marcus Williams.

"At Hamilton's size and explosiveness he can make legit plays as a pass rusher moving downhill. And with his length and coverage acumen he can bail into pass defense and be equally effective," Solak said. "Hamilton was one of the premier players in all of college football but he endured a pre-draft slide after a poor 40-yard dash. This slide dropped him in the lap of the Ravens, one of the league's perennial best drafting teams.

"The new reality of the franchise that a defensive philosophy shift demanded new resources at safety intersected with the tried and true commandments of the franchise: to draft for value and gamble on super-sized athletes. And the Ravens made that pick easily. The Ravens are at the forefront of investment at the safety position now."

With safeties becoming more valuable in the NFL — the four-highest safety contracts by average annual value have all been signed in 2021 or later — Hamilton is an incredible bargain, as he is only the 29th-highest-paid safety in the league.

Hamilton's four-year, fully guaranteed rookie contract is reportedly worth $16.255 million. Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers' Minkah Fitzpatrick signed a four-year contract extension that makes him the league's highest paid safety, with an average annual value of $18.4 million.

"The league is learning just how much safeties matter, and teams are scrambling to get ahead of that wave," Solak said. "Predicting that the Ravens will look smart for one of their draft picks isn't a hard bet to make. They're an easy team to trust. But the Hamilton pick should look smart for a myriad of reasons.

"It'll look smart because Hamilton will be a doggone good football player, an outcome made all the more likely by his joining a good defensive coaching staff with a system that should maximize his impact. It'll look smart because when he becomes a doggone good football player in that system, he'll be a cornerstone of the system, a key cog in the machine and a big reason why it works. And it'll look smart because safeties got paid last year, safeties got paid this year and safeties are going to keep getting paid. And for every safety that gets paid, Hamilton's contract is going to look more and more like a bargain."

Ravens Named Best Fit If DK Metcalf Is Traded

Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox identified prominent players who should be on the trade block and logical landing spots for each, and he has the Ravens as the ideal destination for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf.

"The Baltimore Ravens should jump at the chance to add Metcalf if he becomes available," Knox wrote. "They lack proven talent at the receiver position — especially after dealing Marquise Brown during the draft — and Metcalf is well versed in the scramble drill after spending three seasons as a big-bodied deep threat for [Russell] Wilson. Metcalf could play a similar role with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens while helping Baltimore get right back in the playoff mix."

It's not the first time Metcalf has been linked to the Ravens this offseason. Baltimore also has been mentioned as a potential landing spot for other high-profile wide receivers who might be traded, such as Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers and Terry McLaurin of the Washington Commanders.

However, Ravens officials have repeatedly expressed confidence in the team's corps of young wide receivers (Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace).

Metcalf, who is seeking a new contract, did not participate in the Seahawks' mandatory minicamp last week, but Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll said the team "really intends" to get a deal done.

ESPN's Brady Henderson believes Metcalf is in line for a deal that could average more than $25 million per year and it would likely take a minimum of two first-round picks to acquire him. Given those parameters, General Manager Eric DeCosta trading for Metcalf seems like a longshot.

Pundit Identifies Ravens' Most Questionable Offseason Move

CBS Sports' Jared Dubin identified the most questionable offseason move for each AFC team, and his choice for the Ravens — "no extension for Lamar Jackson (yet)"— should probably come with an asterisk, which Dubin basically admitted.

"It's tough to actually ding the Ravens here because Jackson does not seem to want to negotiate, but hey, their starting quarterback is still not locked in long-term. That's an issue, no matter the reason," Dubin wrote.

Dubin's article was published yesterday morning prior to Jackson's media session, in which he dispelled Dubin's notion that he "does not seem to want to negotiate." As Jackson said repeatedly – eight times to be exact —he and the Ravens are having a conversation.

Jackson added that "we're just keeping it private" and he "expects" to play his entire career in Baltimore.

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