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Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton Declares for 2022 NFL Draft; Will Skip Fiesta Bowl

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 10, 2021

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 23: Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Kyle Hamilton (14) looks on during a game between the USC Trojans and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on October 23, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton will forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. 

Hamilton announced his decision on Twitter, adding that he will skip the Fighting Irish's appearance in the Fiesta Bowl to prepare for the draft:

Kyle Hamilton @kyledhamilton_

Thank you Notre Dame 💚 <a href="https://t.co/IGvH9GzLbO">pic.twitter.com/IGvH9GzLbO</a>

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams followed Hamilton's announcement with a decision of his own:

Kyren Williams @Kyrenwilliams23

Glory to the Lord!🙏🏽 DREAM BIG… <a href="https://t.co/I28TdSubOV">pic.twitter.com/I28TdSubOV</a>

Hamilton had an interesting junior season. He was regarded as one of the top defensive players in the country, but a knee injury cut his season short on Oct. 23. In just seven regular-season games, however, he still posted 34 tackles (two for loss), three interceptions and four passes defended.

Despite his short year, he was still a Bednarik Award finalist:

Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy

Bednarik Award finalists, signifying nation’s top defensive player<br><br>Will Anderson, Alabama<br>Jordan Davis, Georgia<br>Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame<br>Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

That left Hamilton with an interesting question: Would he return for Notre Dame's bowl  game, or would he try to avoid the possibility of future injury and keep his draft stock intact?

Hamilton chose the latter.

At 6'4" and 220 pounds, he is an imposing force at the safety position. On a Nov. 10 big board for ESPN.com, Mel Kiper Jr. had him listed as the No. 2 player in the 2022 NFL draft class, noting that "Hamilton has the size to move up to the line of scrimmage and help in the running game and the speed and range to cover pass-catchers out of the slot." Kiper added, "He's exactly what NFL teams want in their first-round safeties."

Daniel Jeremiah @MoveTheSticks

This Kyle Hamilton INT looks unreal from the wide angle but the endzone view is my favorite. Watch him appear out of nowhere and eat up this ground! <a href="https://t.co/7jm1lPA8WK">pic.twitter.com/7jm1lPA8WK</a>

Dane Brugler @dpbrugler

Kyle Hamilton doing Kyle Hamilton things. <br><br>Range. Instincts. Length. Explosiveness.<br><br>Special dude. No. 3 overall on my preseason top-50 board.

And on Nov. 16, ESPN's Todd McShay listed Hamilton as his No. 4 prospect in the 2022 NFL draft class, calling him "a nightmare matchup for offenses."

"He has great size and closing burst while playing all over the defense," McShay continued. "You'll see him line up deep in coverage, over the slot and even at linebacker. Hamilton can blanket tight ends, and with solid ball skills and an ability to read the QB, he will make plays."

So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that Hamilton is headed to the NFL. He seems like a lock to be a top-10 pick, and potentially even a top-five selection.