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NFL Draft Profile: Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

NFL draft profile scouting report for Notre Dame safety, Kyle Hamilton

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1200px-Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish_logo.svg

#14
Pos: DS
Ht: 6041
Wt: 220
Hand: 0918
Arm: 3300
Wing: 7968
40: 4.59
Bench: N/A
3-Cone: 6.90
Shuttle: 4.32
Vert: 38
Broad: 1011
DOB: 3/15/01
Eligible: 2022
Atlanta, GA
Marist School

Kyle Hamilton
Notre Dame Fighting Irish


One-Liners

One of the most physically gifted prospects in recent memory, Hamilton may be listed as a defensive back but that sells his ability far too short as he aligns any and everywhere on defense and projects to be a top 10 pick come the 2022 NFL Draft.

Pros:

Kyle Hamilton exhibits excellent short-area burst, long speed, change of direction and clean transitions. A long athletic frame that is both flexible and powerful. The definition of versatility on defense. Can play as single high post safety, nickel, box safety, and even aligned at boundary corner and weakside linebacker. For as rangy as he is when deployed as a centerfielder, he is just as aggressive when used as a box defender. The oversized safety also has excellent play strength. The Fighting Irish’s defensive chess piece has experience in the slot, in the box, in two-high, in single-high and more. In man coverage, Hamilton is patient and physical; he uses his power to throw off a route runner’s timing and spacing. he has tremendous instincts to diagnose the play fast and arrive in a hurry. Very sure tackler that provides both big hits and sound fundamentals. Coverage ability that mimics shutdown corners as he can cover tight ends and slot receivers with ease in man to man. Further, the standout defender shows an understanding of how to leverage pass-catchers and use his length to make plays on the ball. Hamilton’s athletic profile allows him to cover tight ends and receivers. In zone coverage, the Notre Dame star displays solid spatial awareness and route recognition. Hamilton reads and reacts to the quarterback and has the exceptional closing speed to attack the catch point once the ball is in the air. Additionally, the safety knows how to use leverage and spacing to cut receivers off. Moreover, the young defender consistently improved in zone coverage as 2020 wore on. He can operate as an NFL team’s single-high safety. His intelligence shines even more than his athleticism in zone coverage. He seems to know where the quarterback wants to go with the ball and fly’s to it. Paradoxical length allows him to mirror what seems like whole parts of the field at a time. Terrific ball skills and attacks with impressive leaping ability. It is also worth noting that the Georgia native has the strong hand-eye coordination to make plays on the ball. Against the run, Hamilton boasts strong gap discipline and the athleticism to functionally two-gap. A safe tackler, the Notre Dame safety will still deliver big hits when he has the chance. He takes sound angles and plays with excellent effort. What’s more, Hamilton is a mismatch for any blocker. 

Cons:

While the Notre Dame standout looks like an early-impact player in the league, he must fine-tune his game to reach his potential. First and foremost, Hamilton plays reactively. Consequently, he can be a step slow to transition or work to the ball. What’s more, he locks his eyes on the quarterback in coverage. This means the opposing signal-caller can manipulate him in zone. Similarly, it sometimes leaves him recovering in man. Further, Hamilton tends to bite on play-action and ends up out of position against the pass. Although the talented defender displays play recognition in flashes, he is not yet an instinctive safety. Despite improving his route recognition and spatial awareness in zone coverage as the year progressed, Hamilton is still raw in that area. Additionally, the Fighting Irish star occasionally takes false steps and flips his hips late or in the wrong direction in man. Moreover, Hamilton must improve his hand usage in man coverage. His inclination to maintain contact is correct; however, he should learn to keep his hands in his opponent’s hip pocket rather than on their shoulder. Finally, Hamilton occasionally fails to break down at the tackle point and whiffs. He has reasonable confidence in his ability to the point where he can cheat up on play-action or bite on underneath routes. Unique skills towards the line of scrimmage but can be blocked at times. His ability to never hesitate may be used against him by veteran NFL quarterbacks. Injury is the only concern as he missed the second half of the 2021 season but is widely believed to have been able to play had Notre Dame made the College Football Playoff.

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Summary:

In a draft class filled with talent at every position on defense, Hamilton truly stands above the rest. Very few players have ever been as complete of an athlete as the Notre Dame standout. With height, weight, athleticism, and football intelligence all being a strong suit, it is challenging to find holes in his game. In an environment where teams are drafting prototypes to deal with ever-evolving offenses, Hamilton is a player no evaluator will want to pass on. Some of the most impactful players in the NFL play all over the field including Derwin James, Isaiah Simmons, and Jalen Ramsey. While Hamilton has to prove it first, there is strong reason to believe he can be as effective if not more than the aforementioned.

Background:

Born on March 15th, 2001 in Atlanta Georgia, Kyle Hamilton was a decorated athlete at the Marist School. The do-it-all safety was named the 2018 7-AAAA Special Teams Player of the Year and 2018 7-AAAA First Team All-Region by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He was also chosen to participate in the 2019 All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. In recognition of his outstanding high school career, 247Sports Composite Rankings listed Hamilton as a four-star recruit, the 60th-ranked player in his class, the fifth-overall safety in his year and the ninth-best recruit in the state of Georgia. 247Sports viewed him in an even more favorable light. The site’s own rankings named Hamilton a five-star recruit, the 15th-ranked player in the class, the top safety in 2019 and the second-best recruit from Georgia in his year. The talented safety was an immediate-impact player upon stepping foot on Notre Dame’s campus. In his first preseason with the Fighting Irish, he earned a reputation for being a ballhawk; he even recorded three interceptions in a single scrimmage. In his freshman season, Hamilton played in thirteen games and started the rivalry matchup with USC. He recorded 41 tackles, one tackle for loss, four interceptions and six passes defended. He scored a pick-six on his first defensive snap in Notre Dame’s home stadium. Following his debut campaign, Hamilton was named a Freshman All-American by The Athletic and Co-Defensive Newcomer of the Year by Echoes. Leading up to his sophomore year, the Georgia Native received several preseason decorations. He was placed on the Bednarik Award Watch List, given to the top defensive player in the nation; moreover, he was named Pro Football Focus Preseason All-ACC First Team, Phil Steele Preseason All-Independent First Team and USA TODAY Preseason All-America Second Team. What’s more, Hamilton was ranked ninth on the 2020 edition of Feldman’s Freaks List, a comprehensive compilation of the top athletes in college football. He has been recorded as having run 21 miles per hour and has a vertical jump of over 42 inches. Hamilton then broke out in the COVID-marred 2020 season. He recorded 63 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one interception and six passes defended. For his performance, he was named FWAA All-America First Team, Phil Steele All-America First Team, All-ACC First Team, Associated Press First Team All-ACC, Phil Steele All-ACC First Team, AFCA All-America Second Team, Walter Camp All-America Second Team, The Athletic All-America Second Team and Associated Press All-America Third Team. Hamilton was also a Bednarik Award Semifinalist. 


Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

1st Round

Quote

“I couldn’t do it number one overall. From a draft perspective, from the bias against safeties, why would I use the number one pick when I can probably move down somewhere and still get that same player a couple picks later. So to me, as a GM, that’s how you think. I’m not going to spend that number one, not that I wouldn’t, it’s just that you can get more and then get the same player later on because the safety position is not as talented as the quarterback or other positions.” - Brian Dawkins on taking Kyle Hamilton with the first-overall pick