Weight: 228 lbs
Hands: 10 1/4″
Bench Press: 20 reps
Hamilton was one of the more interesting prospects to watch during my evaluation of the inside linebacker class. The first thing that I had on him in my notes was “BAMA”. NFL teams know that Hamilton has already received some of the best coaching in the country simply because he came out of the University of Alabama. Hamilton and Reuben Foster were a force to be reckoned with in the middle during their 2016 campaign as they looked to claim another title at Alabama, and they constantly play the best teams week after week in the SEC.
He totaled 40 tackles in 2017 with 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks while coming off of a torn ACL. In 2016 he had 64 tackles with 9 tackles for loss and two sacks. Hamilton tore his ACL during the 2016 season in the SEC Championship game vs. Florida. He saw some action in 2015 and made an appearance in every game including their national championship win. Hamilton has stood out to some scouts as one of the smartest inside linebackers in this class.
Hamilton was one of the best coverage inside linebackers that I saw on tape when reviewing the prospects. He comes from a stout 3-4 defense at Alabama who often played a lot of cover 3 and cover 4. A lot of times Hamilton was the “hook/curl” defender in that cover 3 look. When a slot receiver or tight end would go across the middle he would often jam him up and reroute him all while keeping the eye on the quarterback. When the ball was thrown he was good to get a hand on the defender or the ball quickly.
In the cover 4 look Hamilton would usually be a flat defender, which is usually the role of a weakside inside linebacker in a 3-4 system. The strongside linebacker will be occupying the middle, much like a cover 2, with the weakside backer (Hamilton) and outside linebacker (or nickel in the nickel package) who will be bumped off of the line of scrimmage playing the other flat. Hamilton was great to keep his eye on his reads during zone coverage. He was a player who never seemed to get lost in space.
I also had in my notes that he seemed to have the best hips of all the inside linebackers in this class. Often he could flip the hips and follow a receiver who crosses his face and keep a hand on him. When it came to playing the run Hamilton fared well. His run fits looked decent and he was often the player who had to cover the playside B gap and the backside A gap. When the play went away he played the cutback very well and was patient anticipating the play coming back.
The biggest concern that I have with Hamilton is his history with injuries. He tore his ACL during the 2016 season in the SEC Championship game and had a season ending knee fracture in 2017. My biggest concern is if he will be able to hold up during a strenuous 17 week NFL season. The other concern I have is his size and how he will match up vs NFL offensive guards and tight ends. At 6’0 and 233 lbs he is definitely one of the smaller inside linebackers in this class. At a position that takes as many blows as the inside linebacker you definitely want a player who has the durability to take those hits.
His block shedding needs work as well. One of the most important attributes of an inside linebacker is his ability to use the hands. Every play a linebacker needs to get hands on the blocker and “shock and shed” him. The initial punch is the “shock” and the rip is the “shed”. I didn’t see much of that from Hamilton and he needs to improve in this if he wants to get a lot of reps.
Lastly I would like to see him improve with his stunts. A lot of times he was slow on the blitz and slow to get to the quarterback. The 3-4 defense requires a lot of stunts from the inside. Coordinators want to send pressure from multiple angles and the inside can be utilized as much as the outside.
I expect Hamilton to fall somewhere in the later rounds around the 6th or 7th round. Regardless of when he is drafted I think he could be a valuable asset in an NFL training camp and give starters a good look on the scout team.
Check out some of Hamilton’s games from the 2016 and 2017 seasons:
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