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Dominique Hampton a perfect fit for Washington's defense

Dominique Hampton sat with his family watching Day 3 of the NFL Draft. He had a feeling that someone was going to call his name. A handful of teams had told him to keep his phone close because they would be drafting him soon.

The Washington Commanders came "from left field" when they drafted Hampton with the 161st overall pick. That suited him just fine, however, because that's where he wanted to go in the first place.

"If I can go to the Commanders, I feel like this fit would be perfect," Hampton recalled while speaking to Bryan Colbert Jr. on "Raising Hail with the Rookies."

Hampton, the most utilized player in the history of the University of Washington's football program, made a home with the Huskies with his physicality and versatility. He thinks those skills will be put to good use with the Commanders, who he feels possesses a defense that will give him the chance to shine.

"I've been watching [head coach] Dan Quinn's defense and how he runs it," Hampton said. "I was watching him when he was with the [Dallas Cowboys]. I just feel like I fit exactly what my position says. I'm gonna glove up tight ends, I'm gonna be physical in the run game, I'm gonna be over the top on defense. I just feel like the fit was so perfect."

Quinn and defensive coordinator Joe Whitt jr. are not going to reveal all their plans for Washington's defense, but they do know the kind of players they want in it. Whitt said during his introductory press conference that the Commanders will have a "run and hit" scheme, so they set out to find players in the pool of prospects who were experienced, versatile, productive and physical.

Hampton fulfilled all those qualities during his six seasons with the Huskies. Over 57 games, he recorded 190 tackles with 13 pass breakups, a forced fumble and two interceptions. He was known for laying hard hits on pass-catchers while also offering run support near the line of scrimmage, and he was used all over the defensive backfield, from safety to nickel corner.

For the Commanders, Hampton checked all the boxes.

"He's played safety, he's got some linebacker traits, a lot of versatility, a lot of ways that pick can go for us," said assistant general manager Lance Newmark. "We are really excited about getting that athlete in our building. Long, fast, big, big time testing numbers in the process. Physical, competitive, like I said, he's got a lot of experience kind of in different roles on defense, and we had a vision for how we would be able to use him both short term and long term."

As for how the Commanders intend to use those talents, Hampton said the team has him learning safety and dime backer. That tracks for how Washington wants to use all its players, as Hampton and several of his teammates have placed at different spots during OTA practices to see what they can, and can't, do to help the team win.

Learning just one position in the NFL is difficult, but Hampton wants to be "a master of multiple positions."

"It's hard to get you off the field," Hampton said. "That's where I feel like the versatility comes in, and playing different roles is exactly how I grew up. I started off at running back, went to receiver and played [defensive end] a little bit, a little linebacker."

At the same time, Hampton will be expected to sit and learn from his teammates and coaches during his rookie year. He's already gotten a head start on that with Whitt as his defensive coordinator.

"It's turnovers, turnovers, turnovers," Hampton said of Whitt. "Get the ball back to the offense, make plays, score on defense. I really appreciate everything Joe has done for me, but I know it's just the beginning. He's got a plan for me, and I'm ready to execute it."

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