Latest PFF Mock Draft Lands Falcons ‘Game-Changer’

Kyle Hamilton

Getty Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish intercepts a pass.

It’s no secret that the Atlanta Falcons have several holes to fill heading into the 2022 NFL draft, so how they approach it still remains a huge question mark. Mock drafts have proposed various projections about who Atlanta will turn to first come April.

In Pro Football Focus’s February 21 mock draft, the Falcons don’t address a major need with their first pick in No. 8 overall; instead, they take what may be the best player available in Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, whom PFF calls a “game-changer.”

Hamilton Is ‘a Bit of a Unicorn’ With ‘All-Pro Potential,’ Analyst Says

The PFF mock draft summarizes why “Kyle Hamilton is different”:

Safety isn’t a premium position, and it is relatively low on the positional value chart because of it, but Kyle Hamilton is different. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, the Notre Dame star legitimately has all of the sideline-to-sideline range, size and ball skills to be a game-changer, regardless of scheme or role at the next level.

And his praises have been sung before. In his prospect analysis, NFL analyst Lance Zierlein wrote that Hamilton is a “high-impact safety with a unique blend of traits and characteristics that make him a bit of a unicorn at the position. Hamilton has the eyes and speed to play over the top, the strength and toughness to play near the line, and coverage length to guard elite pass-catching tight ends who often mismatch opposing defenses.”

Zierlein called Hamilton “a ferocious striker and intimidator who has the football intelligence and athletic prowess to go make plays in the passing game,” adding that he “has the traits and football character to transition from standout college moments to a standout pro career as a future Pro Bowler with All-Pro potential.”

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Falcons’ 2022 NFL Draft Plan

The Falcons went into the 2021 draft with plans to take the best player available at No. 4 overall.

“In the draft, you’re going to take the best player,” Falcons’ general manager Terry Fontenot told ahead of the 2021 draft, just after he was hired in January 2021. “You can’t be afraid to continue [to add] at every position. There’s not a position that you’re going to say, ‘Oh, we’re good there, we’re not going to draft there this year.’ That’s just what I believe. … We’re never going to be afraid to take a player at any position and build strength.”

Fontenot first learned this approach from Ozzie Newsome, who is known as one of the more highly regarded general managers in the history of the NFL.

“You never want to reach for needs,” Fontenot said. “I think it’s cool listening to Ozzie Newsome tell stories about where there were certain players on the board, in certain areas, and they took the best player available, and he ends up taking Hall of Fame players as opposed to reaching for a need.”

Atlanta went on to select Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with their first pick. However, Denver Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright claimed in October 2021 that quarterback Trey Lance had been on Atlanta’s radar but once he was taken, the Falcons took Pitts as the next best thing.

According to team reporter Tori McElhaney, the Falcons plan on taking the same approach for this year’s pick at No. 8 overall and beyond.

And that player might be Kyle Hamilton.


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