With different names sprouting up around draft circles every week, very few have been consistent in the spot they are in. Kyle Hamilton, however, has it a bit differently. Hamilton has been regarded as a top player in this draft class since he started getting minutes at Notre Dame it seems. The former four-star safety brings in tons of talent but it’s his frame that is the real kicker for NFL teams. At 6’4″, 220 pounds, Hamilton has exquisite length and his play on the field is demonstrated through that. It’s important to note that Hamilton only saw seven games in 2021 before being ruled out with a non-career threatening knee injury. Now, let’s get into what all this hype has been about the past two years.
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Name: Kyle Hamilton
Jersey: No. 14
School: Notre Dame
Weight: 220 lbs
Games Watched: Florida State (2021), Purdue (2021), Clemson (2020), Alabama (2020)
Major Injury History: Fat Pad Impingement Around Knee (2021)
Hamilton certainly doesn’t have bad instincts but it’s one of his more inconsistent areas (if there were any in the first place). He’s quick to get his feet and body moving off the snap, especially when the ball moves outside. On inside run concepts, Hamilton is not as quick to get active, neither is he when he needs to jump into zone. In man coverage, though, he’s got tremendous instincts and sticks on the receiver right away. Hamilton’s instincts have room for improvement but won’t be an issue when he gets into the league.
One word to describe Hamilton’s range would simply be electric. The way he’s able to fly to the ball for a guy his size is a joy to watch and he’s clearly got the most range of any safety in this class. There are just countless plays where Hamilton is hawking a ball down mid-flight, making a play on it, or picking it off. This happens almost at least twice a drive and not to mention how quickly he gets to ball carriers in the run or on swing passes.
Man Coverage (10/10)
This is Hamilton’s greatest ability by a longshot. As a safety, his size, and even a safety in general, should not have the man coverage ability of a high-end cornerback but Hamilton does. He sticks to his man with superb change of direction and hip fluidity. The plays on the ball Hamilton within man coverage are shocking because of how well he mirrors routes and shuts down wide receivers. This all gives teams the ability to play Hamilton wherever they’d like because there will never be a mismatch.
Zone Coverage (8.5/10)
Zone coverage is a really interesting part of Hamilton’s game. He can get out of position at times and is a little bit undisciplined in where he has to go but a lot of the time his range can make up for the mistakes Hamilton makes in zone. This is probably the area that he can improve the most in the NFL because of that size. The flashes are there, and he’s not bad at zone at all, but changes can make Hamilton’s play worlds different.
Ball Skills (9.5/10)
Here we go right back to the elite traits. Whether it’s in man or zone Hamilton is able to make virtually any play on the ball. His size allows him to get his hands up and knock the ball away and disrupt passing lanes when possible. Hamilton’s closing speed gets him to the ball quickly and he can make very acrobatic plays to either intercept or deflect the ball. For example, in the Florida State game on what was one of the first drives of the season, Hamilton stuck on someone in man, jumped the corner route, and made a great diving toe-tap interception. In his career overall, he has eight picks and an astonishing 17 passes deflected.
Change of Direction (9/10)
Very rarely do we see Hamilton be clunky when changing direction but it has happened and does happen in every game he plays. However, these are still rare occurrences as previously reiterated and the overall change of direction is great. He moves in all directions effortlessly and has zero trouble when tasked with flipping his hips when mirroring a wide receiver’s routes either in man coverage or when approaching in zone.
Tackling/ Run support (7/10)
Hamilton is very capable of both these traits but they are his worst attributes by far. When looking at tackling from a general sense, Hamilton is very good at using his long arms to wrap up the ball carrier however he tends to take some poor angles on his approach, leading to bad positioning and a miss. Run support can be a bit better as well although when lined upright in the box he excels with that elite closing speed.
You probably won’t find a more versatile college safety than Hamilton. If Notre Dame wanted to they could put the guy at outside corner and he wouldn’t miss a beat but they, obviously, do not do that. What they do though is line Hamilton up in double-high coverage, the slot, single-high, the box, and even more when you look at it. NFL teams will love Hamilton’s ability to play all over and will warrant him an even higher pick (if that’s possible).
Last but not least in our grading is looking at Hamilton’s elite athleticism. We’ve discussed it before and we’ll discuss it again but all of this natural athleticism builds into his entire play, including the range, coverage skills, and versatility. There are no official measurements to go off of yet but don’t be surprised if Hamilton puts up a 4.50 40 time while completing a 40′ vertical. The numbers will be off the charts when they come out and will just assert Hamilton’s insane athleticism
The most coveted safety prospect since Jamal Adams proves to be worth all the hype here. There’s no role you cannot give Hamilton at the next level and it’ll be very fun to see him match up with the big-name tight ends like Darren Waller and Travis Kelce while also switching onto, and dominating, slot receivers and other wideouts. We talk all the time about how the best player in the draft is Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal, or Aidan Hutchinson but we cannot forget about Hamilton just because he’s been out of action for a while. This player is well worth a top-five pick and can be a franchise changer for any defensive unit.
Rookie Projection: Starting safety
Third Year Projection: Top-7 Safety
Final Grade (91.5/100): Potential Top-10 Pick
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