Career Recap: Under head coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has produced a lot of good defensive talent for the NFL, and Hamilton is one of the rare players who was able to start as a freshman. He put together an excellent freshman season for Notre Dame, showing good ball skills with four interceptions and six passes broken up to go along with 41 tackles. As a sophomore, Hamilton totaled 56 tackles, an interception and six passes broken up. He was the best player on a Notre Dame defense that helped lead the team to the college football playoff.
2021 Season Outlook: Hamilton is going to see some quality receivers and quarterbacks during his junior year. A tough test could come with Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder and wideout Alec Pierce on Oct. 2. Pierce could be an early-round prospect, while Ridder could be a mid-rounder. The best duo on the schedule and toughest challenge for Hamilton could be the Oct. 23rd game against USC with quarterback Kedon Slovis and wide receiver Drake London. London looks like a potential first-round pick, and Slovis could have mid-round potential.
Other games that could challenge Hamilton are Toledo on Sept. 11 and Wisconsin on Sept. 25. Each team has some late-round receiver prospects. Georgia Tech on Nov. 20 will also be a challenge, as the programs features some young receiving talent and a sophomore quarterback in Jeff Sims who is a dual-threat weapon and could be a prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Skill-Set Summary: The NFL is a game of matchups, and defensive coordinators are always in search for defensive backs who can negate mismatch problems. Hamilton's a versatile defender, a vertiable Swiss Army knife, who can solve a variety of problems, and that is going to leave him very much in demand in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Hamilton is a big safety who is athletic and very fast. With his outstanding combination of size and speed, he can make a difference in a variety of ways. Hamilton's size and strength allow him to be the eighth man in the box as a run defender. He has the speed and range to be the deep free safety, and being fast and athletic allows him to play man coverage on tight ends. Hamilton has few limitations for as a defender, and that will make him a valuable starter at the pro level.
Hamilton is paticularly impressive against the pass. While he has a good skill set, his instincts and intelligence lead him to making big plays in coverage. He shows good vision and route recognition, which prevents him from getting burned on double moves or getting caught out of position. Hamilton also makes an excellent decisions on when to break on the ball and where he needs to flow in zone coverage. Hamilton uses his big size to smack passes away, cover up targets, and disrupt throwing lanes.
With his size and speed, Hamilton should be an asset to handle receiving tight ends in man coverage. Developing his ability to play the ball and not grab too much or initiate contact too early will help him to avoid penalties in the NFL. Those are issues that can be resolved with pro coaching. The NFL loves mismatch tight ends, and Hamilton should end up being a problem solver for those issues. His size, however, takes him out of being a candidate to match up in man on slot receivers. He could do that somewhat, but it is not the ideal situation for him as a pro.
As a run defender, Hamilton is tremendous. He explodes downhill and eats up space in a blur. Hamilton tackles fantastically well, showing an innate ability to make stops in the open field by the cutting the legs out from underneath ball-carriers. Hamilton is smart about securing the tackle rather than going for the knockout blow. He also is big enough to handle big backs, receivers, and tight ends. It would be a surprise if Hamilton is not a valuable run stopper in the NFL.
Hamilton is a special safety and has the potential to be an excellent pro. After some time adjusting to the next level, Hamilton develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber defender in the early years of his rookie contract.
2022 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2021 season, Hamilton looks like the favorite to be the top safety prospect. He has a real shot at grading out as a first-round pick.