Kyle Hamilton-Inconceivable

In today’s NFL, as the game evolves it becomes all the more crucial to find generational athletes to keep up with the development of the league. Whether that be in finding quarterbacks who can launch the ball 60 yards across their body; or turning former running backs into freakishly athletic edge rushers; the notion surrounding prospects and players is as rapidly inconsistent as the league’s salary cap. Although the game and how we perceive certain positions is changing, for the most part, precedents have determined some pretty successful formulas for predicting success in the pros. Safeties, however, have almost always been an enigma. The definition of a good safety changes by era and by team. Some are asked to exclusively cover, a center-fielder, and some are asked to line up in the box and blitz. So when you ask someone what a safety does or is supposed to do, your answer will vary person to person. Some may argue that some safeties are better than others because they do x better than they can, while others claim that some safety is better than another because they do y better than anyone else in the league. Some may even go so far as to claim “so and so is the best safety in the league because he has a better PFF grade.” The funny thing is that none of these people are necessarily wrong (well, all except for the PFF take because, let’s face it, if someone’s sole argument is a PFF grade they are almost certainly wrong) but none of them are necessarily right either. To put it simply, the best safeties in the league do exactly what they’re asked to do, they excel at being the perfect person for their unique task(s). No player can truly do everything at the highest level: Some are faster, while others might be better in coverage, while others might have better instincts, or others are better at stopping the run. It’s downright impossible for a safety to be the absolute best at everything. However, Kyle Hamilton out of Notre Dame could be the closest we ever see.

Kyle Hamilton: Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football's Humble Stud On The  Grand Stage

Most of the country has likely heard the legends of Kyle Hamilton following his almost superhero-like performance against the Florida State Seminoles. His name has skyrocketed up draft boards and some websites are even arguing he has a shot at winning the Heisman. Given that his performance in Tallahassee was likely many fans’ first experience with Hamilton, a number of people have cynically claimed “well it was one game, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Is he really THAT good?” The short answer: Yes. Yes he is.

To understand why Hamilton is such a special player we need to understand what makes him a special player. Hamilton stands a towering 6’4” and weighs in at roughly 220 pounds, with a 42-inch vertical to boast. If NFL general managers could create their perfect safety in a lab, I can guarantee almost all of them would turn out looking like Hamilton. Hamilton is equipped with elite size, speed, length, range, versatility, but importantly, his most valuable asset is his brain.

Hamilton is a smart player. He understands gap assignments, coverages, blitz packages, just about anything really. His extreme size, athletic prowess, and football IQ allow him to be extremely versatile. Throughout his career he has consistently lined up in single-high and two-high looks, in the box, in the slot, and even on the edge. What’s ludicrous is that despite his complex and diverse array of coverage assignments, he rarely ever makes a mistake. Typically, players with an athletic pedigree such as his tend to make mental errors fairly frequently, they’re overconfident in their capabilities. These can lead to some pretty big errors: busted coverage, massive chunk plays, penalties, etc. Mistakes players make in college that were erased simply because they were the best athlete on the field are made very evident in the NFL, they can’t get away with them. Hamilton rarely ever makes these errors, which seem to be frequent for most uber-athletic prospects. His combination of size, speed, versatility, and intelligence make for some pretty ridiculous plays. When I find myself watching film of Hamilton, the closest comparison I can make isn’t to that of another player or athlete, he reminds me of a queen in chess. Whenever he’s on the field, Hamilton is the top guy, he’s not limited in where he can move or what he can do, and when opposing teams forget this, he can take over a game.

Hamilton utilizes all of this to make plays no one else can make. For instance, check out his second interception against Florida State. This isn’t anything new either, the All-American has been making jaw-dropping plays since his freshman year. In his first two seasons at Notre Dame, Hamilton has had more interceptions and pass-breakups than receptions allowed. He’s been playing at an absurdly high level for a long time. Additionally, when targeted as a freshman, opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 1.3. Yes, you read that correctly. Hamilton appears to not be confined by the laws of nature nor physics, he’ll make a play that will leave you laughing maniacally yelling “WHAT?!”

Essentially, we haven’t seen a prospect quite like Hamilton, and truth be told we may not see one after him for a long time. Many argue that safeties are not a valuable enough asset in the NFL to garner a top 10 pick, and to that I say: When a player like Hamilton is on the board, you draft him and you don’t look back.


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