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Preseason Scouting Notes: Damar Hamlin, S, Pittsburgh

Redshirt Senior | 6’0” 195 lbs | McKees Rocks, PA

 

Versatile secondary defender with true click and close ability who needs to cut down on undisciplined penalties

 

Overview:

Coming out of high school, Damar Hamlin was a true Cornerback. However, a core muscle injury and three surgeries forced Hamlin to miss a significant amount of time, eventually leading to a position change. In Pittsburgh’s 4-3 defensive scheme Hamlin plays free safety and occasionally comes down from his position to man-up and play slot corner. Even with missing a chunk of games due to injury, he has started in 30 games thus far for his career. With being granted an additional year of eligibility, Hamlin is looking to prove he can play the Safety position as naturally as he can play Corner.

Strengths:

– Sideline to sideline range
– Takes smart angles when in pursuit of the ball carrier
– Aggressive tackler who does not shy away from contact
– Able to disengage and shed blocks of receivers
– Gives up very little YAC when he allows a completion in coverage
– Quick reaction time and impressive closing speed
– Sinks his hips to change direction on a dime
– Physical enough to match up with Tight Ends
– Can be trusted to man-up and play in the slot if needed

Areas to improve:

– Needs to be more disciplined with his eyes. Focuses too much on either his receiver or the QB, but cannot multi-task
– Communication skills with his fellow teammates needs improvement. He cannot be afraid to be a vocal leader
– Needs to stay in phase more often and cut down on unnecessary penalties
– Struggles to get head around in time to make a play on the ball while covering deep routes
– Rarely has been asked to blitz
– Bites hard on run fakes

Injury Concerns:

– Core muscle injury in 2016 resulted in three surgeries (missed 10 games in 2016 and 3 games in 2017)

Projection:

Based on Hamlin’s abilities and traits, he projects to be drafted as a Free Safety next offseason. As he is still adjusting to the Safety position, he may not start right away in an NFL system. Based on his speed and versatility, Hamlin could be a late Day 2 pick if things break right for him. He may not see many defensive snaps his rookie season, but his speed and physicality will allow him to be valuable to special teams units.

What to watch in 2020:

Will Hamlin become more disciplined while in pass coverage? He needs to learn to use his peripheral vision while dropping back in coverage to keep his eyes on both his receiving responsibility as well as the QB. Can he stop taking unnecessary DPI and Holding penalties? DPIs are more crucial penalties in the NFL than they are in college. If he cannot prevent himself from being flagged, he will not see much time on the defensive side of the ball.