This series will feature the top NFL Draft prospects with insight from the beat reporters that covered them in college. This article is just a preview of the full interview which can be heard on the Deep Slant podcast.
Name: Kyle Hamilton
School: Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6-4, 220
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Below is a portion of Deep Sidhu's interview with Notre Dame beat reporter Pete Sampson, who covers the Fighting Irish for The Athletic.
Sidhu: There have not been a lot of safeties that go at the top of the NFL Draft boards, especially in recent years. Kyle Hamilton has been projected to go as high as No. 3, even to the Texans by a lot of these mock drafts recently. What sort of an impact can a guy like Hamilton make immediately in the NFL?
Sampson: I think he almost allows you to play 11 1/2-on-11, defensively, and this is something that I think Hamilton's potential has yet to be unlocked. It's like this is a weird thing to start on, but the hash marks are so much closer in the NFL than they are in college. Whereas in college, if the ball is over to the right hash and you're playing the left hash as a safety, that's hard to cover that much ground. He did it in college, but with the ball being so much more central in the NFL, I actually think his impact will be enhanced at the next level. He's going to be able to sort of be a middle-field safety central to the ball and somebody who can play like kind of a single-high if you want to.
He was just an eraser at Notre Dame. He took away so much stuff. If there was a busted coverage, his interception at Florida State, the second one he had there where you ran about 35 yards while the ball was in the air, which is completely ridiculous. And I think that's the kind of stuff he can do at the next level, even more than he did at Notre Dame, just with the way the field is formatted.
Sidhu: I've read so much about his versatility and all the different types of receivers he can cover. He can line up close to the line of scrimmage. He can play back deep. Tell us a little bit about his versatility and what you saw from him in your time covering him.
Sampson: Yeah, it's interesting because I never felt like we got to see like the full Kyle Hamilton experience at Notre Dame, other than maybe just a few games this season before he had the knee injury that knocked him out but, they would use him in the box if they were playing a run-heavy or an option team that they lined up in a 4-4. They'd roll him down when they played USC a couple of years ago. That was the USC team with Michael Pittman, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns. They lined him up as like a deep field safety like 20 yards off the line of scrimmage and basically don't let anybody get deeper than you. So he can give you everything. When they played Stanford, their best player in the past game was a tight end, Colby Parkinson, so they'd line him up one-on-one on him. They've sort of asked him to do everything and he's done it. You can make him whatever you want to make at the next level. And that's going to be fascinating to see wherever he goes. How do you maximize a guy like this?
Sidhu: How about for you? Is there a particular moment or game that really stands out to you in his career?
Sampson: He was just really fun to watch week in and week out. It would be hard to pick one, but certainly, the moment that stands with you the most is his second interception at Florida State, where he covers three-quarters of the field horizontally with the ball in the air. And you see the reaction of Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis is just like, 'What the heck was that? There's no way I could have seen him coming because he was out of my field of vision when I released the football.' So yeah, there's been a lot of just freaky plays like that. This kid really is built differently than any other safety that I've seen.
Sidhu: What is Hamilton like personality-wise? I know you've spent a lot of time with him and his family, gotten to know him really well. What's he like off the field? What's he into?
Sampson: You know, he's not into any crazy stuff. I mean, he's like a video-game kid, likes hanging out, but I think the thing that really strikes you is he's a very mature twenty-one, twenty-two-year-old kid. When you sit down with him, you don't feel like you're talking to a college kid. You feel like you're talking to a young adult. So that's part of it.
He is very stubborn. Might be too much, but not by a lot. Like when he makes a decision, he'll dig his heels in on it. And he knows how good he is. I don't want to come across as I'm presenting this kid like, 'Oh, gosh, shucks, I'm just really good at football.' No, he knows how good he is. So again, that gets into like the certainty and, you know, the deliberateness of how he views football, where it can take him financially, professionally. I would describe him as sort of a mature kid where you feel like you're talking to a guy in his late 20s, not his late teens or early 20s.
The 2022 NFL Draft takes place Thursday, April 28 through Saturday, April 30 in Las Vegas, Nevada.