Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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30 JUNE/JULY 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL A ll told, Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton's time in the 2022 NFL Draft green room fell short of painstaking, at least in relative terms. The first report of the Baltimore Ravens taking him at No. 14 overall hit Twitter just more than 90 minutes from the draft's official opening April 28. Compared to many fellow draft pros- pects, that's a mild wait. Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis sat through 29 picks before the Kansas City Chiefs chose him. Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd saw 26 selections come and go without his name, and Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II sat backstage for 25. It could have been even worse. Four players in the green room did not hear their names called at all during the first round. That's not to say nerves didn't grip the Hamilton contingent's table in Las Vegas as the night unfolded, though. "We first got in there, everybody was laughing and smiling, and then the whole room, the mood just shifted," Hamilton told reporters on a Zoom call late on draft night. "Slowly but surely, people started to tense up a little bit." Hamilton's stock had dipped from po- tential top-five pick this winter to top-15 in the last few weeks, but mock drafts and big boards did not lessen his expectations. Forget about them, he thought. He saw himself as one of the draft's best players. He had visited with both New York teams, the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and Detroit Lions in the pre-draft process. Those teams held seven of the top 10 picks. None chose him. The early teens brought more unease. The Washington Commanders — who he also visited — traded out of the No. 11 pick. So did the Minnesota Vikings at No. 12 and the Texans at No. 13. All three were com- mon mock draft destinations for him. The hour and a half was a cruel reminder that, save for the top few picks, no amount of pre-draft meetings and Zoom calls can provide a prospect with a concrete idea of where he will go. It's guesswork in the end. "Going into the draft tonight, there's a bunch of questions — probably more questions than answers," Hamilton said. "Throughout the process, I knew the Ravens liked me." Hamilton's pre-draft visit with the Ra- vens included a meeting with head coach John Harbaugh. He said had discussions with them about how he could fit in the defense. He sensed a strong culture. Bal- timore wasn't picking 14th because it has been mired in mediocrity. Last season was one of just five times in Harbaugh's 14-year tenure they missed the playoffs. "[They're] one of the best organizations in the league, and to be able to play for a team like that from the start, I'm excited," Hamilton said. "They hope to win a Super Bowl this year. Hopefully, I can add to that mission, and we can complete that. "In terms of falling, or whatever, or slid- ing, like people say, you never really know going into the draft whether somebody is falling or sliding. They go where they're supposed to go. I feel like I just went to the right team at the end of the day." Hamilton joins a crowded position in Baltimore. The Ravens signed former New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Wil- liams to a five-year, $70 million con- tract in March. He didn't come there to sit on the bench. Chuck Clark has held their other starting safety spot since 2019. Both are entering their sixth NFL seasons and still in their prime years. The Ravens also have 2021 third-round pick Brandon Stephens and eight-year vet Tony Jefferson in their safety room. That depth chart might mean Ham- ilton doesn't start right away. He can BALTIMORE BOUND New Raven Kyle Hamilton New Raven Kyle Hamilton 'fell to the right team' in first round 'fell to the right team' in first round Hamilton, a safety who was taken 14th overall by the Ravens, became the highest-drafted Notre Dame defensive player since Bryant Young (No. 7) in 1994. Irish head coach Marcus Freeman and safeties coach Chris O'Leary (right) were on hand in Las Vegas for Hamilton's big moment at the NFL Draft April 28. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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