There has been a minimal buzz around the safety position in the two most recent NFL drafts, but Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton will change that. Hamilton earned first-team All-ACC honors in his first year as a full-time starter in 2020 after a stellar freshman campaign. Hamilton could be the first Notre Dame defender selected in the top-10 since Todd Lyght in 1991.
During his first year as a full-time starter for Notre Dame, Hamilton racked up 63 tackles, one interception, and six pass breakups. A bit of a drop-off from his four-interception freshman season due to quarterbacks knowing not to test the All-American. When Hamilton was tested, he only allowed 18 catches for 138 yards, a 4.45 yards per attempt average.
Kyle Hamilton the Unicorn
As soon as you turn on the tape for Hamilton, it’s clear why NFL coaches are salivating to get him on their roster. Standing at 6’4’’ and 219lbs, Hamilton is a tight-end eraser that is a valuable commodity in the modern NFL game. Offensive coordinators looking to create advantageous matchups won’t find one against Hamilton. The fluidity that he displays in man coverage is something seen in cornerbacks, not safeties.
Not to limit himself as just a tight-end eraser in man coverage; he can also work against slot receivers. Although he might not be as fast as some slot receivers he lines up against, his recovery speed is unreal. His seemingly unlimited range complements this from sideline to sideline. Hamilton is rarely out of position on any play due to the superior instincts that make him an exceptional talent.
His versatility allows him to play close to the line of scrimmage as an extra Blitzer or linebacker in run defense. Rarely do you see Hamilton getting broken down by running backs or taking bad angles of pursuit. His length is genuinely something to behold when shooting gaps to make plays in the backfield. When Hamilton is on the field, there is no getting around the edge of the defense.
Where Hamilton needs to improve
If there is anything in Hamilton’s game that could get better with time, it’s his ball-hawking skills. During his second year, the drop-off in interceptions has less to do with Hamilton and more to do with quarterbacks knowing not to test him. Also, he can get grabby in man coverage when turning upfield against smaller players. Defensive coordinators should probably avoid using him as a larger nickelback like other safeties.
Is Hamilton the next great NFL safety?
In the last ten draft cycles, true safeties have only gone in the top ten selections twice. Those two players, Jamal Adams and Mark Barron, have shown that the transition to the NFL is a real challenge. Hamilton should have no issue translating his playstyle to the speed and complexities of the NFL game.
If you are looking for a pro to compare him to, look no further than the Denver Broncos premier safety Justin Simmons. Both are incredibly dependable tacklers in open space and have sideline to sideline range. They have the length, speed, and instincts to be the ultimate match-up negators in any scenario.
READ MORE: Kyle Hamilton Draft Profile Scouting Report