Kyle Hamilton’s pro day 40-time is a legitimate red flag for New York Jets to consider
One of the trickiest parts of the NFL draft process is figuring out how to properly utilize a prospect’s testing numbers. Should these drills really override the hundreds of live-game snaps that a player put on film throughout his collegiate career?
The answer to that question is a resounding “no” – a player’s film is easily the most important part of his resume – but there are still useful things that can be gleaned from a player’s testing numbers.
I think the best way to utilize testing numbers is to look for results on the extreme ends of the spectrum. When players put up incredibly great or incredibly poor numbers, that’s when you have something worth noting.
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton fell on the latter end of that spectrum at his pro day. A projected top-10 pick and possible target of the New York Jets, Hamilton is a highly-touted prospect who may see his stock drop due to some poor testing numbers.
Hamilton’s draft process was already off to a rough start after an underwhelming performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in early March. His 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash was a disappointment to some observers who expected more from the draft’s consensus No. 1 safety prospect.
A few weeks later, Hamilton took the field at Notre Dame’s pro day and made things even worse.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said he heard from scouts that Hamilton ran in the “low 4.7’s” at his pro day. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler supported Jeremiah’s report, saying that he was told Hamilton was timed at 4.70 and 4.74.
This is true. I was told 4.70 and 4.74 for Kyle Hamilton at the ND pro day. https://t.co/ySB891d99R
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 28, 2022
While Hamilton’s 4.59 time at the combine was concerning, it was not the end of the world. But the low-4.7s? That’s a major red flag (if the times are legitimate).
According to Pro Football Reference’s database, only 38 safeties clocked in with a time of 4.70 or worse at the combine from 2000 to 2021. Just eight of those 38 safeties were drafted and none were selected prior to the fifth round.
Of those 38 players, only two have proven to be long-term starters in the NFL: Tony Jefferson (2013, 4.75, undrafted, Cardinals) and Kendrick Lewis (2010, 4.73, fifth round, Chiefs).
Jefferson and Lewis were solid starters, but neither came close to a Pro Bowl or All-Pro appearance. And, yet, they’re by far the two best players of the aforementioned 38-player bunch. None of the other 36 players has served as a primary starter for more than one season.
If Hamilton’s pro day 40 attempts were timed correctly and he was not dealing with an injury, his draft stock will certainly drop a bit in the eyes of some front offices – at least as a safety.
Perhaps a few teams will now project Hamilton as a linebacker in the NFL, or as some sort of hybrid player. He is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, after all. There are NFL linebackers who are smaller than that (including the two drafted by the Jets in 2021: Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen).
Ultimately, as we said at the beginning of this article, testing numbers should never completely override what is seen on tape. Hamilton often looked quite fast on the field, so his 40 times are a surprise.
We went from going nuts over how fast Kyle Hamilton was on this play to overvaluing a flipping 40 time! 🤦🏾♂️
— Damian Parson (@DP_NFL) March 30, 2022
Not watching for Kyle Hamilton but he always stands out pic.twitter.com/b2eAQbg89F
— Theo Ash (@TheoAshNFL) March 26, 2022
With that being said, Hamilton’s shockingly lackluster testing numbers are not something that can be ignored when evaluating him. While they are not enough to cancel out his film and production to drop him out of the first round, they could make some teams think twice about viewing him as a “generational” safety prospect that warrants a top-5 or top-10 pick.