Despite slow 40-yard dash time, former Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton manages to impress

Mike Berardino
ND Insider
Notre Dame defensive back Kyle Hamilton runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, March 6, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The disappointing aspect of Kyle Hamilton’s Sunday workout at the NFL Scouting Combine wasn’t hard to identify. 

The All-American safety from Notre Dame ran a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash, second-slowest among the 15 safeties clocked at the annual event at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The good news? Hamilton was predictably freakish in most other areas of the dog-and-pony show. 

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Plus, he will get another chance to run the 40 at Notre Dame’s Pro Day on March 25. The NFL Draft is April 28-30. 

“I know he’s not going to be happy with his 40 time at 4.59,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on-air. “Look, he almost went outside the white. He’s weaving up and down. Once he just gets in a straight line, you’re going to see that time really drop.”

Notre Dame defensive back Kyle Hamilton (51) participates in a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

Maryland’s Nick Cross ran the fastest 40 time at the combine among safeties: 4.34 seconds. Six safeties, including Michigan’s Dax Hill, broke the 4.4 barrier. 

Despite his pedestrian 40-yard dash time, Mina Kimes of ESPN's NFL Live went as far to declare that Hamilton is not only the best safety, but overall player.

'It doesn’t look like he’s ever stressed'

Hamilton, who missed the final six games of the 2021 season after suffering a right knee injury in the first quarter against USC, did manage to impress in other measurable drills. His 38-inch vertical jump was third among safeties, and his broad jump of 10 feet, 11 inches trailed only Georgia’s Lewis Cine at the position. 

Hamilton, who officially measured at 6-4 ⅛ and 220 pounds, did not participate in the bench press portion of the workout. His arms measured at 33 inches and his hand size was 9 ⅛ inches. 

“Once he got into the field workout, you can see how fluid he is,” Jeremiah said during Sunday’s telecast. “For a big safety, he just moves really naturally. It doesn’t look like he’s ever stressed. I know there’s some teams in the top 10 that are hoping, ‘Hey, maybe people are going to read into this 40 and he’ll slide down.’ “ 

Projected as high as No. 2 overall to the Detroit Lions in some mock drafts, No safety has been drafted in the top three overall since UCLA’s Eric Turner went to the Cleveland Browns with the No. 2 pick in 1991. 

Notre Dame defensive back Kyle Hamilton (51) participates in the broad jump at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

Since 2000, just two safeties have been taken among the top-five overall picks: the late Sean Taylor (2004) and Eric Berry (2010). Both went off the board at No. 5. 

Hamilton is seeking to become the third Notre Dame defensive player selected in the top 10 in the past four-plus decades. Since defensive end Ross Browner went eighth overall in 1978, the only Irish defenders to go in the top 10 were cornerback Todd Lyght (fifth in 1991) and defensive tackle Bryant Young (seventh in 1994).  

'The best safety in the country'

Hamilton’s size, instincts, intelligence and ball skills — eight interceptions in 13 career games — could override any concerns over a lack of raw speed. However, the way he ended last season and his inability to return to game action despite multiple platelet-rich plasma treatments will give NFL teams added incentive to obsess over Hamilton’s medical reports. 

Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton (14) on the sidelines during the 2022 Playstation Fiesta Bowl Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Along with running back Kyren Williams, Hamilton skipped the Fiesta Bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft. 

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With Hamilton’s media availability canceled on Saturday due to a medical delay — basically a backlog in team-conducted exams that bled into his allotted interview time — it was left to draft pundits and his former teammates to make the case for him as a top-five pick. 

“It was unbelievable to go against him in practice,” former Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan told reporters at the combine. “Obviously, he’s the best safety in the country. He covers so much ground and he’s so athletic. I knew going into games that I would never see another safety like him when we played. It was basically tougher in practice than it was in the games.”

Staff writer Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for ndinsider.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBerardino.