The opportunity to join an NFL team is a dream come true for pretty much all athletes fortunate enough to play professional football. Sometimes that dream is taken to the next level when a player is selected by an organization with a track record of success like the Baltimore Ravens.
That’s why 2021 fifth-round pick Daelin Hayes is excited about being selected by the Ravens. The rookie outside linebacker is well aware of the team’s history of defensive players such as Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed.
“It’s just rich in tradition. I got goose bumps when I first came into the building. You talk about a long line of great players that came before you,” Hayes said after his first day of rookie minicamp last week. “So, the standard was the standard, and you feel that when you walk in this building. It’s just a feeling of excellence, and it just fired me up, and I was excited to get to work and anxious to get on the field today. So, yes, it was great feeling.”
The Ravens also have an extensive connection to the community. That’s another area where Hayes will really connect to the organization. He was heavily involved in community outreach at Notre Dame where he was a finalist for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of Year Award.
Hayes volunteered and served as a mentor at schools in South Bend, Indiana. He also became a leader in the social justice movement at Notre Dame. Hayes was front and center at the Irish Juneteenth Rally and March. The natural fit with the Ravens doesn’t stop there. Hayes’ ability to do multiple things within the defense is an excellent fit for the Ravens.
Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale asks his players to do a variety of things. Specifically, the outside linebackers are required to rush the passer in Martindale’s aggressive scheme. They also need to be able to drop into coverage on passing plays and set the edge against the run. Those are all areas that Hayes is well experienced from his time at Notre Dame.
“Yes, I feel like it’s something I feel pretty comfortable in. Obviously, it’s just about learning the nuances of the defense and just getting familiar with these different sets and different route combinations,” Hayes said.
Although there are some similarities as far as being asked to do a lot of things, Hayes knows there’s an adjustment he has to make.
“At Notre Dame, I was dropping, but I was always aligned to the boundary, so not a lot of route combinations came at me. There were times where I could be on the field, and there’s all types of things that I could be adjusting to,” Hayes explained. “So, it’s a little bit— it’s different, but that’s what practice is for, that’s what this time is for. So, I’m excited, I’m embracing the challenge, and [I’m] excited to see how that manifests itself in the fall.”