Draft analyst thinks Commanders ‘couldn’t pass on’ Kyle Hamilton with 11th pick

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Draft analyst: Commanders can't pass on Hamilton with 11th pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Sheer unpredictability has become the descriptor of choice for the 2022 NFL Draft coming up this Thursday. Nobody can really predict who will go first overall, how many quarterbacks will be taken in the first round, or which prospects will become Pro Bowlers. It’s a complete toss-up.

Washington selects 11th overall on Thursday and given the volatility of how the top-10 could shake out, a wealth of prospects at several different positions could be available for the Commanders. One prospect in particular, though, could be a franchise piece in the secondary for years to come: Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton.

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah recently listed Hamilton as the fifth-best prospect in his latest list of the top 150. However, he also had the Fighting Irish alum slipping to Washington at No. 11 in his latest mock draft. When asked if Hamilton would be an absolute must-draft in that 11th spot for the Commanders, should he fall that far, Jeremiah responded firmly.

“Yeah, for me he would,” Jeremiah said. “I know teams have different varying opinions I should say on the value not only of safeties, but when you take into account that maybe he didn't run as fast as everybody would have hoped with Hamilton. But again, he's my fifth player. I couldn't pass on him at that point in time. Whatever the knocks are, this is just too good of a value.”

Hamilton ran a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash—tied for slowest of all safeties who ran the dash at the combine back in early March. Though he might look sluggish on paper, Hamilton’s on-field talent is undeniable.

As NBCSW's Pete Hailey noted a couple weeks ago, Hamilton’s deep range, versatility, and ability to read offensive setups make him a clear-cut first-rounder. In fact, it’s entirely possible he could be swiped well ahead of Washington’s 11th pick. The aforementioned unpredictability of the draft, though, could mean the potential All-Pro safety falls right into the Commanders’ lap.

Washington is still looking to shore up their wide receiver room behind Terry McLaurin. They might elect to draft a wideout with the 11th pick, which would make a lot of sense considering two Ohio State products—Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave—along with USC’s Drake London and Alabama’s Jameson Williams are looking like potential generational talents.

“The only receiver I would take over [Hamilton] if he's there would be Garrett Wilson. That's it,” Jeremiah said. “I would take Kyle Hamilton knowing you've still got other options here. You'll be able to find some guys. You're not desperate at that position. They've got wideouts. They've got some talent there. To me I would probably just sit there and take best available.”

It’s true that behind McLaurin, Washington’s current depth at wide receiver is intriguing. Curtis Samuel is returning from nagging injuries that severely limited his production in 2021. Dyami Brown and the newly re-signed Cam Sims provide downfield threats to complement the hail-mary style of Carson Wentz.

But does Washington’s need at safety outweigh their need at wideout? Kam Curl and Bobby McCain both saw a surge in productivity in the latter half of 2021 and should continue to bolster the Commanders’ secondary to begin this season. Plus, Washington could wait until the second round to snag that depth piece at receiver.

“At pick 47, if you don't get your receiver [in the first round], we just kind of mentioned and went through some of those names with the Christian Watsons and maybe a Skyy Moore type could be there,” Jeremiah said.

All the research and scenario-planning in the world couldn’t totally prepare Washington for who will and won’t be available with the 11th overall pick. Kyle Hamilton, if he falls, could be a slam-dunk pick considering his ceiling. With less than four days to go until they’re on the clock, it’s decision time for the Burgundy & Gold.