Kyle Hamilton could make the Steelers alter their draft plans

Safety Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Safety Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers seem destined to draft a quarterback, but Kyle Hamilton could throw a curveball in their NFL Draft plans. 

Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have now met with the top quarterback prospects at the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, their individual Pro Days, and in Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit. Nearly every sign points to the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting a quarterback with their top selection this year.

However, they may be willing to stray from this plan… if the right player falls.

Kyle Hamilton a prospect they are no doubt familiar with. Over the past two seasons, Hamilton was projected as a potential future top-five pick and was thought to be one of the best overall safety prospects of the past decade.

With elite length, explosion, instincts, and ball skills, Hamilton’s impact on Notre Dame’s defense could easily be seen in each game he played. However, to the surprise of many, the former lock-top-ten pick could find himself sliding down boards on draft day.

There are a few reasons for this. For starters, Hamilton played in just 11 games in 2021 and earned the lowest overall grade of his college career, according to Pro Football Focus. The dagger for him, however, was running a disappointing 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine — a number that only got worse when he tried to run again at his Pro Day.

4.6 speed in the secondary is always a bit concerning, but Hamilton’s loss could be Pittsburgh’s gain.

Steelers could draft Hamilton

If there’s a single player in this draft who could potentially sway the Steelers from going with a quarterback in the first round, perhaps it’s Kyle Hamilton.

Pittsburgh is very familiar with Notre Dame players (Stephon Tuitt, Chase Claypool) and Hamilton would fill a massive need at strong safety.

The Steelers seem to be willing to enter the NFL Draft knowing full well that they do not have a starting safety. While I don’t think it’s likely they draft a safety with their first selection, there’s a good chance they do so on day two. However, if Hamilton was the surprise option that fell, this might be too good for them to pass up.

In 31 college games, Hamilton has been a difference-maker for the fighting Irish as he recorded 138 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 16 pass defenses, and 8 interceptions, according to Sports Reference. Despite his slow testing, Hamilton had elite explosion numbers at the NFL Combine, and his short-area burst is still very good.

With his length and instincts, it’s hard to find many plays on tape where his speed gets him in trouble. In time, would could look back on the 2022 NFL Draft and wonder why a player like Kyle Hamilton fell.

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I’m not crazy about the idea of drafting a safety in the first round, but I would be willing to make an exception for a blue-chip player like Kyle Hamilton. Perhaps the Steelers would be willing to as well.