Kyle Hamilton showed up to Notre Dame’s pro day ready check a box. NFL teams wanted to the 6-foot-4, 217-pound safety to run the 40-yard dash again after a middling performance at the Indianapolis combine. So sure, Hamilton would run if some scouts needed to see this unicorn of a defensive back sprint in a straight line. No problem.
Hamilton cut three-hundredths of a second off his time, down to a 4.56, a solid but not spectacular performance that called into question the value of the metric more than the player. Regardless, consider the box checked. Once Hamilton was done with his run, he spent the day watching former teammates work out while also mingling with Jerome Bettis and Zack Martin, one already a Pro Football Hall of Famer and the other likely headed there.
That’s the company Hamilton could keep moving forward after going No. 14 overall to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday night. And it’s absolutely no surprise Hamilton has wound up sharing a stage with Roger Goodell. As a five-star prospect out of Marist School in Atlanta, Hamilton starred at the same prep program that produced Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay. He made three interceptions in his first collegiate practice. He had a pick-six on his first collegiate snap in Notre Dame Stadium. He opened his final college season last fall with the perfect NFL Draft highlight reel play, a field-spanning sideline interception against Florida State.
Hamilton is right where he should be, whatever doubt his testing numbers cast on a safety going in the top 10.
“If I’m thinking I’m probably the fifth or sixth player in the draft, that’s not gonna make any team want me to make me want to create, make big plays,” Hamilton said. “I feel like I’ve carried myself that way ever since I started playing sports. Just know that you’re the best, compete like you’re the best and you’ll show that you’re the best.”
Dane Brugler on Kyle Hamilton (No. 1 S, No. 6 overall prospect in The Beast)
Hamilton is a long, super-sized safety who has the explosive range, smarts and toughness to be deployed anywhere on the football field. He anticipates well vs. both the pass and the run and shows the ball skills and tackling balance to be a consistent finisher. Overall, Hamilton frustrates quarterbacks with all the ways he impacts the game and will need an NFL defensive scheme that understands how to maximize his versatile talent. A mash-up of Isaiah Simmons and Justin Simmons, he has the potential to be a diverse matchup weapon in the NFL due to his rare combination of physical traits and natural football instincts.
Top college highlight
Hamilton victimized Florida State’s Jordan Travis last September for an interception that was the stuff of legend, sprinting from the hash to the opposite sideline to grab a turnover Notre Dame needed en route to an overtime win. Hamilton took his helmet off on the Florida State sideline after the pick and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. A few days later, former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly strayed from college football coachespeak when he admitted that he would have taken his helmet off, too, if he could make a play like that.
“Kyle Hamilton is as good as I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been around some really, really good football players. Not only is it his athleticism, his physicality, his intelligence, his ability to put himself in position to be successful, I think sometimes as the defensive coordinator I overused him and asked him to do too much because you felt like he can do anything. ” —Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman
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After using the new NIL rules to turn his junior year of college into a test run for pro life, Hamilton arrives in the NFL as a ready-made enterprise. He landed apparel deals and a national podcast through Colin Cowherd’s Volume network, on top of the standard memorabilia signing work. With an older brother already employed by Athletes First, the agency where Hamilton ultimately signed, plus a father who played in the NBA and trains professional basketball players, whatever bright lights and big money that comes with the NFL shouldn’t faze Hamilton.
(Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)