(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

Hamilton v. Edwards: A Defense of Kyle Hamilton’s NFL Potential

By: AJ Houk

“Something that doesn’t translate to the NFL.” A phrase used this week by former Michigan WR, Braylon Edwards, in a recent radio conversation talking about Notre Dame players in the NFL (Watch it here). More specifically, a conversation that centered around consensus All-American Kyle Hamilton and his potential draft spot with the Detroit Lions. In the rant by Edwards, he went on to belittle Notre Dame overall and concluded that in no way should the Lions consider using their 2nd overall pick on Hamilton.

Now I could spend my time here going down the list of Notre Dame Hall of Famers (13), pro-bowlers, and the many players (38) making impacts on current NFL rosters, including the still active ND graduate and six time pro bowler, Harrison Smith. Or we could point out Braylon’s own up and down days in the NFL from which he may be drawing this conclusion from, but I want to hone this in a bit and focus on the facts.

Is Kyle Hamilton worth the price tag of the 2nd overall pick? We know what, Braylon Edwards thinks but let me explain why he is wrong.

Stability

When drafting in the first round there is one thing that outweighs almost all other factors when deciding who to pick. Stability. GMs will be asking themselves at the end of April “Can this player consistently contribute year after year on my team?” With the average career in the NFL lasting only about three years it’s a lot harder to find stability than one might think. This stability is one of the many reasons Kyle Hamilton is getting serious consideration from every NFL scout and climbing up draft boards. With Hamilton, a team is going to get a guy who is going to bring relentless effort and playmaking to any defense. Barring one minor setback in his final season that caused him to miss the end of the season Hamilton started every single game he was eligible for. He even picked off a pass on his first play of his first home game and returned it for a touchdown. During his time the Notre Dame defense never finished outside of the top 25, and ND posted an overall record of 27-5.

Athleticism

Kyle Hamilton stands 6’4 and weighs 220 points. By NFL standards he would be taller than most safeties but his size isn’t all that sets him apart. Throw in the fact that his wingspan measures at 6’7 3/4 and it’s hard to ignore his freakish figure. Pair this with his 4.5 40 time and you begin to think there may not be a part of the field he couldn’t reach. Watch Exhibit A:

When you break it down even further Hamilton’s athleticism has him amongst the best in the NFL. Tracking Football, a company built to assess player athleticism that is used by NFL teams to scout players, has given Hamilton a rare, perfect 5.0 combine score. This score is an objective Division I football calibrated score that includes player position, height, weight, and verified combine performance data. Relative to safeties that have been drafted in the last five years, Hamilton’s score ranks number one. Those who fall behind him include Derwin James (3rd) as well as Minkah Fitzpatrick (6th). Both of whom are multi-time pro bowlers. Tell any NFL GM you could be getting a more athletic Derwin James and I’m sure all of them would be taking a long hard look at putting Hamilton at the top of their draft board.

Leadership

Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins, John Lynch, Troy Polamalu. Each of these players are Hall of Fame safeties of different sizes shapes and ability. What was the commonality between them that helped them reach the NFL pinnacle? Leadership. These players were masterminds of the game and had the ability to elevate the defenses they played on by commanding the athletes around them. Players who played with them were better because of the presence these guys brought on and off the field.

So where does Hamilton fall on the leadership scale? As a junior he was selected by his team and coaches to be a captain, an honor that is many times reserved for seniors. Through his junior year we saw him commanding the field by calling out coverages, getting the defense into the right positions, and providing the necessary words of motivation on the sidelines. Where the true leadership shined however was after his final season was cut short due to injury. While many players with his draft status may have stepped away from the team and started his draft prep, he chose to stick by his teammates. He acted as a player coach and made sure his defense was ready for the remainder of the season – an outstanding example of Hamilton’s leadership and maturity.

Hamilton (14) coaches up members of the defense as the Fighting Irish in the fourth quarter of their 44-34 win over North Carolina in 2021. (Photo by Chad Ryan)

All things considered the risk you’re taking on Hamilton is hardly a risk at all. Is he truly worth being the 2nd pick? Only time will truly give us that answer. To be vehemently against taking him at that position? That is just ridiculous and an inaccurate depiction of the player Kyle Hamilton is. Nothing is for sure in the NFL but Hamilton is as close as they come.

ND and Michigan are among the biggest rivals in in the sport, and Braylon Edwards undoubtedly harbors just a bit of anti-ND bias in the back of his mind. After all he was 1-2 against the Irish while at Michigan, apparently he doesn’t like Notre Dame and he has decided he doesn’t think much of Kyle Hamilton.

Sober analysis however, reveals that everything in Hamilton’s game translates directly to the NFL.

Perennial doormat Detroit drafts second this year, and they need all of the help they can get. The kind of help that Kyle Hamilton can provide. But don’t forget its the Lions! So there is always the risk that they will ignore sober analysis and get their advice from Braylon Edwards.

AJ Houk is a former College Football player, a Fighting Irish Preview Photographer and an occasional contributor on the editorial side. This is his first piece.

By AJ Houk

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