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Reviewing the Jaguars' 2020 Draft Class: What Did DaVon Hamilton Show in Year 1?

DaVon Hamilton's first year with the Jacksonville Jaguars saw him rise from a third round pick and rotation player to a starter. He became one of the brightest spots in the front seven. So what does that mean for his future with the team?

When the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Ohio State defensive lineman DaVon Hamilton in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the plan was to let contribute while learning. The rookie was to be one of a decently deep rotation, giving him an opportunity to adjust to the NFL and learn from the veterans around him.

A compliment to Al Woods; that’s the class in which former General Manager Dave Caldwell put Hamilton after drafting him last spring.

“Since we lost Marcell [Dareus] with his injury, we have been missing a big body. That is why we got Al Woods. Now we have a young version of Al – 6’4, 320,” Caldwell said at the time of Hamilton.

“He is a guy that can hold the point [of attack]. We will have a nice rotation with those guys. DeVon, Abry [Jones], Taven [Bryan]. We wanted to get bigger up front.”

Then COVID-19 forced Al Woods to opt out of the season; Taven Bryan’s snap count went down significantly and Abry Jones missed 11 games due to injury. Suddenly, Davon Hamilton had to do more than contribute. He had to factor in to the game, the defense and the front seven.

So how did he do? We examine his first season in Duval.

2020 Stats:

  • 11 quarterback pressures
  • Five quarterback hurries
  • One sack
  • One batted pass
  • 30 tackles 
  • 11 defensive stops 

What Went Right

From the first practice rep Hamilton took in the summer of 2020, it was clear he had the potential to see the field from day one. At the time, we couldn’t imagine he’d usurp Abry Jones or Taven Bryan for a starting role, but he was firmly in the heavy rotation.

Here’s what we wrote about Hamilton back in August following a practice: “One can’t help but notice him at 6-4, 320. He’s a giant, but with a stature that holds itself as fit. He’s deceptively quick. In every drill seen, his first twitch seemed instinctual and his burst—and more so his bend—matched that of someone half his size. If the Jaguars get into a situation where they’re without Abry Jones, Hamilton has the potential to surprise a lot of opponents as a rookie on the defensive line.”

And as we’ve now mentioned, that happened.

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While Hamilton began starting in the interior during Week 6, he was already paying upwards of 30 snaps a game in the first quarter of the season. As the weeks progressed, Hamilton’s snap count increased with the most coming versus the Los Angles Chargers. That game also coincidentally was Hamilton’s best performance top to bottom statistically.

He was able to push offensive linemen out of their gaps, take on extra pressure to free up lanes, and prove to still be disruptive on his own.

In early November, former defensive coordinator Todd Wash summed up Hamilton’s impact best.

“DaVon is a big, physical guy. Probably what I like the most about him is he’s a gym rat, he’s very intelligent. You know, we put some stuff on his plate last week, he was able to execute it and played really well for us. So, I think the sky is the limit for him. And once again, he’s getting better and better as the season goes on.

What Went Wrong

The Ohio State product had a lackluster game here and there, not totally uncommon for a rookie, but never sustained stretches of dismal play. Of course that also meant he didn’t sustain stretches of top-notch play. Again, not a huge concern for a rookie.

There are really no weaknesses with Hamilton’s game, as far as his ability to understand and execute. The next step is simply, well, taking the next step. Elevating his play and continuing to improve on what he already does well. That will require staying healthy. He was placed on IR after Week 12 and remained there for the rest of the year. It was “good news” according to Head Coach Doug Marrone, in that it wasn’t a long term injury. But it did require him to miss the last four weeks of the season.

2021 Outlook

If the Jaguars are going to build around a young team, it will take guys like Davon Hamilton. He’s a potential starter this fall, especially with the free agent status of Abry Jones still undecided. Even if Jones is resigned, Hamilton will still be a huge part of the new Joe Cullen defense.

Doug Marrone said it best. The outlook for Davon Hamilton with the Jacksonville Jaguars is bright, and only getting started.

“I like him. He’s a hell of a player,” said Marrone after Week 10.

“He’s real smart. He knows what’s going on now, it’s a lot more. He knows what’s going on around him, he knows blocking schemes, backfield sets, all that stuff. I mean he’s a student of the game. Not only that, he’s a big guy and he’s active. A lot of times you get these big guys and they’re not [active]. They can hold the gap, sit there, if the play comes to them, they can make it, but he can make plays that are moving around him, whether he’s on the run or not.

“I think a year lifting, a year playing, practicing, and getting his body better for the game, I think you’re going to see a lot of production out of him. I think he’s proven [that]. You know how sometimes you look at guys and you’re like, ‘Wow, he had a great year. I wonder how he’s going [to play next year]?’ I think this player that we’re talking about is going to be consistent…[He’s a] good player.”