Will Hill is part of the reason I expect the Ravens to have a much-improved safety tandem this season.
Hill and Kendrick Lewis give the Ravens two athletic safeties that can cover territory and make game-changing plays. After signing a two-year contract Thursday, Hill smiled when asked about the chemistry he has built with Lewis during the offseason.
“To me, I think we’re a deadly combo because we compliment each other so well,” Hill said. “I can play in the box and play deep, and he can do the same thing.”
The Ravens opened last season with Darian Stewart and Matt Elam starting at safety. That did not work out as planned. Stewart had a disappointing season with the Ravens, and signed with the Broncos during free agency. Elam struggled as well, and eventually lost his starting job. Now with a torn biceps suffered in training camp, Elam may not play at all in 2015.
However, the Ravens feel confident about the safety position, with Hill and Lewis starting, and second-year player Terrence Brooks making a speedy recovery from knee surgery. Lewis was a typical free agent signing by Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome – not flashy, but shrewd. Lewis has already started 66 NFL games with the Texans and Chiefs, and he has nine career interceptions. At age 27, Lewis is in his prime years.
The same is true with Hill, who is just 25. He came to the Ravens last season with plenty of baggage and plenty to prove, having been hit with his third NFL suspension. There are never any guarantees, especially for a player with Hill’s background. However, after missing the first six games of 2014, Hill’s play steadily improved. More importantly, he seems to have improved as a person. Newsome is in the winning business, and he would not be investing in Hill if not convinced he has matured.
“I talk to Ozzie every day, and Mr. (Steve) Bisciotti (Ravens owner) – we have good conversations,” Hill said. “They mingle with my family, so everybody is really family-oriented around here.”
The Ravens have never questioned Hill’s talent. He is a punishing hitter who can cause turnovers, a point of emphasis with the Ravens’ defense this season.
When the Ravens signed Hill last year, it was a gamble. However, all signs point to Hill making that gamble pay off.