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Flawed Evaluation: Is Atlanta Native Kyle Hamilton Still a Falcons Target at No. 8?

Once considered a Top-5 NFL Draft talent, the Notre Dame safety's slow 40 times have raised a lot of concerns

Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton has been a popular name among Atlanta Falcons fans when discussing the upcoming NFL Draft.

A 6-4 prospect with an elite scouting grade from most evaluators who was labeled "a bit of a unicorn" in at least one draft profile, Hamilton was once considered to be a Top 5 prospect in this year's class.

Two slow run times, however, have derailed some of that hype, and now have some wondering if he should even be on the list of draft targets for Atlanta at No. 8.

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A 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine raised some eyebrows, but not enough to really land Hamilton on the list of 'losers' from the event.

Many felt it was likely a fluke and he'd do better at Notre Dame's Pro Day later on in the evaluation process.

At the Pro Day Hamilton ran even worse, with some recording a time in the 4.7 seconds.

Those times are notoriously inaccurate because of the fact they're hand-timed, but not a good demonstration of speed nonetheless.

At the end of the day, Hamilton will have slow run times associated with his evaluation, and he'll have to live with the results.

For perspective, nobody is placing any other available safeties ahead of him, and he's certainly not expected to fall out of the first round.

No, the question now surrounds just how far the former Top 5 projection might slip, and if it's really due to these times, or something else altogether.

Former NFL scout Bucky Brooks put his thoughts on Hamilton's evaluation in writing recently, bringing some strong perspective to the matter.

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"I understand the challenge of selling a head coach on a safety with disappointing 40 times in a league built on speed," wrote Brooks. "But Hamilton's combine jumps -- 38 inches in the vertical, 10-11 in the broad -- showcase explosiveness. Not to mention, his tape is outstanding -- and the game is played in pads and a helmet, not shorts and a T-shirt. If you trust your eyes and the traits that consistently appear throughout the tape study, you go with the grade that was originally jotted down in the notebook before Hamilton ran the 40."

A different former NFL scout once told me the combine isn't about finding new information related to the physical abilities of a player, it's meant to confirm your evaluations with controlled data.

When new data presents itself - like Hamilton's slow time - then it creates a reason to go back and reevaluate the tape, but you always rely on the tape.

Even still we see workout warriors get elevated, with many eventually labeled as over-drafted, and those who struggle slide even when the tape showed elevated levels of play on the field.

And the reason for this was struck on the head by Brooks. It's a matter of trust.

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Terry Fontenot Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Like Brooks wrote, if teams like the Atlanta Falcons trust their process and trust the eyes they've sent to evaluate these players as a profession, then the question shouldn't be all that difficult to answer.

But the film and evaluation are clear. Hamilton is a safety who can help against the run, and provide value against the pass.

In the locker room, all signs point to his being an upstanding young man who was a team captain at Notre Dame and a true leader.

From his game on the field to his character as a person, Hamilton represents a lot of things the Falcons need more of.

Even if he didn't run as fast as we'd hoped in tights and a t-shirt.