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The 2022 NFL Draft is right around the corner and the Atlanta Falcons have been linked to several players at various positions for their 8th overall pick and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton has been one of them.
ESPN’s Jordan Reid released his latest mock draft, featuring all seven rounds, and is one of the draft analysts that believe Hamilton is Atlanta’s best bet with their first pick:
“The Falcons need talent at nearly every position across the board,” writes Reid. “General manager Terry Fontenot could focus instead on taking the best prospect available. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Hamilton brings a tremendous skill set to the defensive backfield. He can be a playmaker and tone-setter for Atlanta.”
Reid isn’t wrong about the Falcons needing talent at almost every single position, so why not draft the best player available––which is what Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith already plan to do.
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Atlanta’s NFL Draft Plan Remains the Same
Despite several holes to fill last offseason, Fontenot and Smith went into their first-ever draft experience as GM and head coach planning to select the best player available at No. 4 overall.
“In the draft, you’re going to take the best player,” Fontenot said via AtlantaFalcons.com ahead of the 2021 draft. “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.”
He explained that he first learned this approach from Ozzie Newsome––also known as one of the most elite general managers in NFL history.
“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 would go on to draft Florida tight end, Kyle Pitts.
Fontenot and Smith will take the same approach to draft the “best player available” and not “reach for needs,” in this year’s draft as well, according to team reporter Tori McElhaney.
Hamilton Might Not Be Available at No. 8
The Falcons don’t have the luxury of drafting a player in the top 5 this year, which means Hamilton, who has been highly regarded as the No.1 best player in the draft, may not be left on the board at No. 8.
Here’s a look at who picks ahead of the Falcons:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Detroit Lions
3. Houston Texans
4. New York Jets
5. New York Giants
6 Carolina Panthers
7. New York Giants
A safety has never been selected at first overall in NFL Draft history, so you can cancel out the Jaguars, who are projected to snag the best defensive end. The Detroit Lions’ top remains at quarterback. The Houston Texans could turn to almost any player with endless roster needs like Atlanta but they’ll likely start in the trenches.
Next up are the New York Jets.
The Jets have been the team, other than the Falcons, repeatedly tagged to Hamilton. In fact the last time a safety went in the top 10 was when the Jets drafted Jamal Adams in 2017 at No. 6 overall.
Not to mention that second-year Jets head coach Robert Saleh is not ruling out drafting a safety first this year, especially one that is worth it.
“You never want to say no to any position group,” Saleh said during a Zoom call with reporters in March. “Obviously, there’s premium positions when you look at quarterback and edge rusher and corner and O-line. Those are the easy ones to check off, but you can never say no to a unicorn and someone who has a tremendous talent and clearly the best possible player you can take at that time. You never want to be stubborn to your thought process. To answer your question about taking a safety, if he’s worthy of it, it will definitely be a discussion.”
And there’s no question about it that Hamilton is a “unicorn” safety worth grabbing.
In three seasons at Notre Dame, Hamilton allowed 39 receptions on 82 targets for 388 yards. He logged 149 yards after the catch, scored one touchdown, had eight interceptions and 14 pass breakups.
That being said, if there is one team that the Falcons need to worry about taking Hamilton ahead of them, it’s the God d*mn Jets.