ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — In an exclusive interview with 2 On Your Side's Julianne Pelusi, Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi said he thinks his former player and the Bills sixth round pick Damar Hamlin will make an immediate impact this season and will make Buffalo's 53-man roster.
"He's got that heart. He's got the leadership. I mean, our entire defense revolved around him," Narduzzi said about the No. 212 overall pick.
"I'm really confident he's gonna make that team. Damar will go up there, show his skills off. I think he's so versatile. I think he can play the safety position, obviously I think he can play a nickel spot, and he can play quarter, based on what kind of coverages you're playing, so I think he's going to be smarter than most guys in camp."
Outside of Hamlin's football IQ, he will also have a leg up in camp rejoining former Pitt teammate, cornerback Dane Jackson in Buffalo.
"Those two worked together for a long time to maintain within the boundary. Dane will really help him mentally go into that camp as far as maybe some of the new terminology," Narduzzi said. "Dane's a great football player that made some plays this year, and is only going to get better. I know Coach McDermott's happy with him, and he's going to be just as happy or happier with Damar."
Narduzzi's Pitt program guided a handful of defensive backs, like Hamlin and Jackson, who made it to the NFL. The Pitt coach said he's maintained a relationship with Bills coach Sean McDermott since he was an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles and said McDermott thanked him after Hamlin's selection on Saturday.
"I've stayed in touch with him and I think he trusts what we do and what we say down here in Pittsburgh. He reached out to me and said, 'Hey, thanks for the help with Damar.' That's what it's about," Narduzzi said.
"He's a real person. Obviously a tremendous football coach. He's a great leader, and he's done an outstanding job in Buffalo. No one's done what he's done up there. He's a guy Buffalo better hold onto for a long time."
Hamlin was a standout player at football powerhouse Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School, the home of NFL legend and another Pitt product, Dan Marino.