One of the biggest needs for the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into the 2020 NFL Draft was at the defensive tackle position. The Jaguars chose to address this by selecting DaVon Hamilton, a 6-foot-4, 320 pound Ohio State product, in the third-round. Hamilton is the topic of discussion for today’s 2020 post-draft Q&A entry.
We reached out to Gene Ross, managing editor of SB Nation’s Land-Grant Holy Land — your one-stop shop for all things Ohio State Buckeyes. Let’s learn more about what the Jaguars are getting in Hamilton:
1. What would you say are Hamilton’s strengths and weaknesses, and what is the biggest area he needs to improve upon to have a successful NFL career?
Gene: Hamilton’s biggest strength is far and away his efforts in stopping the run game. At Ohio State this past season, he was part of a deep group of defensive lineman that ranked No. 6 in the nation in yards per rush allowed (2.98). At 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, he is a big body that takes up a bunch of space while also possessing great athleticism for his size. As far as weaknesses go, his hands could still use a bit of work. He was able to just bulldoze guys with a quick power rush at the collegiate level, but will likely need to improve his hand technique if he wants to be a more consistent pass rusher at the next level.
2. Hamilton was selected somewhat earlier than anticipated (third round, No. 73 overall, while most projections I saw were for the fourth or fifth round). Other defensive tackles such as Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore and Missouri’s Jordan Elliott were still on the board, but clearly Jacksonville saw Hamilton as the best fit. Where did you project him to go, and do you like his fit with the Jaguars, a team that desperately needs help in the interior defensive line?
Gene: I think in terms of his draft stock it depends on who you ask. I saw some projections that did have Hamilton going as high as the third round. In fact, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah actually had Hamilton listed as his top sleeper at the defensive tackle position, stating that his numbers would have been a lot better had Chase Young not been beating him to the ball. I think he’s a great fit in Jacksonville, and could potentially start right from the get-go with a solid camp. With Josh Allen off the edge and Hamilton up the middle, the Jaguars are starting to put together a talented young defensive line.
3. Hamilton was often buried on the extremely talented depth chart at Ohio State throughout his career. He finally got the opportunity to start full-time his senior year, but was still overshadowed on an OSU defense that featured first-round picks such as Chase Young, Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette. What did Hamilton do for the Buckeyes that went unnoticed or maybe didn’t show up on the stat sheet? What overall impact did he make?
Gene: Starting on the defensive line at Ohio State is no easy task with some of the big names that have come through the program in recent years. Hamilton really stepped up his senior year for the Buckeyes and was probably one of the defense’s biggest unsung heroes. Not many people realize until they look at the stats, but Hamilton was actually No. 2 on the team in sacks behind only Young with 6.5 on the year from the defensive tackle spot — including a sack of Trevor Lawrence in the Fiesta Bowl against Clemson. In terms of things that don’t appear on the stat sheet, Hamilton is very good at making an impact even when the play isn’t flowing in his direction. He has a great pursuit radius, and very rarely lets guys escape once they’re in his hands.
4. Is Hamilton the high-character, leadership type player that Jacksonville is trying to move its roster toward? Why or why not?
Gene: Hamilton is absolutely a high-character football player. In terms of leadership, it is a bit tough to tell as there were so many other big names on the team around him to fill that role. However, Hamilton never got into any sort of trouble, and always maintained laser focus on the field. He finished school at Ohio State, graduating in 2019 with a degree in sociology. I’m sure he would have impressed coaches and scouts with his intelligence and demeanor if the school’s Pro Day had not been cancelled due to COVID-19.
5. Nearly 32 percent (21 out of 66) of Hamilton’s career tackles went for a loss and he also had seven career sacks. What makes him so effective at getting into the backfield? Is there a particular game or play where his really stood out?
Gene: As previously mentioned, Hamilton’s bull rush is his specialty. He has a quick first step, which often allows him to get the leverage needed to simply overpower the opposition with his great mix of size, strength, and agility. Once in the backfield, Hamilton has a good closing burst and seems to always take the best path to the ball. If there was one game in particular his abilities stood out this past season, it was against Wisconsin. While Chase Young stole the show, Hamilton did a great job of shutting down the Badgers’ interior runs while also picking up a sack. It is worth noting, however, that some of his success may have been aided by all of the attention given to Young, as Hamilton was never doubled and rarely had to deal with a running back in pass protection, as those were usually saved for Young off the edge.
6. Anything else we should know about Hamilton?
Gene: Just a fun fact that you may have already known, but Hamilton posted the best bench press of all defensive linemen at this year’s NFL Combine with 33 reps (of 225 pounds). He really developed at Ohio State, ranked as the No. 998 prospect out of high school in 2015 and now having earned a top-100 selection in the NFL Draft. If Hamilton is able to continue the success he had in his senior season with the Buckeyes, he will certainly become an asset up the middle for the Jaguars. He may have gone a bit higher than expected, but I think he has a really great upside.