Ray Hamilton to the Cowboys
— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) May 2, 2015
WHAT'S SPECIAL ABOUT RAY HAMILTON?
Hamilton had an odd career. He came to Iowa with a modicum of hype (Rivals had him as a 4* recruit and all the services had him as one of the best tight end recruits in the midwest) and selected the Hawkeyes over a host of glittering offers (including Michigan, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Oregon). But upon arrival in Iowa City his career amounted to a protracted game of "hurry up and wait." He never got an opportunity to be the lead tight end at Iowa. For three years he bade his time behind C.J. Fiedorowicz (an NFL Draft pick in 2014) and this year he found himself edged out by Jake Duzey. Hamilton never took a redshirt year and contributed early and often as a blocker and special teams contributor, which ended up being his primary contribution to Iowa football over the last four years. He never really got many opportunities to show off his pass-catching bona fides, as evidenced by the stats below. That doesn't mean he wasn't (or couldn't be) a capable receiver -- just that he never had the chance to prove it or not.
WHAT DID HE DO THAT WAS SO GREAT?
Hamilton's primary role during his four years at Iowa was as a blocking tight end and it was a role he filled well. He finished blocks well and was generally good at holding the edge. He also contributed on special teams coverage units for several seasons at Iowa. He's a versatile, athletic player with a good grasp of the fundamentals of the tight end position and the potential to have a decent amount of upside as a pass-catcher.
HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES?
Hamilton left Iowa at 6-5, 252 lbs; he's not the biggest tight end around, but being undersized shouldn't really be a concern with him, either. It's difficult to get a handle on his other measurables, though -- he wasn't invited to the NFL Combine and the only recorded stat for him from Iowa's Pro Day is his vertical. He came to Iowa with a reported 40 time for 4.7, but in reality he's probably a bit slower than that, although he's by no means ponderous. After watching Hamilton for four years at Iowa, it's hard to say anything about his measurables stood out, positively or negatively -- he wasn't exceptionally fast or powerful, but he wasn't worryingly slow or weak, either. His hands were solid, but not spectacular.
PRO DAY RESULTS
WHAT ABOUT THE BAD?
The worst thing about Hamilton's NFL prospects is simply how much of a mystery he is or was -- even as a college player. He didn't produce much in the way of stats at the college level and that could be a red flag, even accounting for the fact that he didn't have a lot of opportunities to accumulate stats. There's a risk that Hamilton could be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none: he appears to be competent at all of the fundamental skills of the tight end position, but he's not a standout at any one thing yet.
WAS THIS A GOOD SIGNING?
It's rare to write that a player headed to the NFL from Iowa is a bit of a mystery, but... here we are. Hamilton spent four years at Iowa and was never bad, but he was never a standout performer, either. While that seems like a bit of a condemnation of him, I'm not sure it is -- he just never had a great deal of opportunities to showcase himself at Iowa. A cynic might say that a more dominant player would have forced himself into the playing time conversation and ensured that he had more opportunities and maybe that's true. But Hamilton is an interesting prospect: he has a good grasp of the fundamentals, solid measurables, and some potential upside as a pass-catcher. Given all that and Iowa's pedigree of producing solid contributors at the tight end position over the years, it's not hard to make the case that Hamilton is worth a low-risk investment like this.