Leftovers & Links: Pro Day perhaps not as rewarding for Kyle Hamilton as the Notre Dame safety hoped

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The NFL draft process is an exercise in smoke-and-mirrors claims buttressed by cloak-and-dagger leaks to the media. Believing anything is a risk. Yet, given it is the NFL, the process only gains momentum and supposed credibility over the next month. For Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, tuning some of that out looks increasingly advisable.

Anyone who watched Hamilton the last three years knows he is an NFL-caliber safety with sideline-to-sideline range only helped by a football IQ that is often undersold simply as “instincts,” a compliment in its own right.

After Notre Dame’s Pro Day last week, Hamilton’s official 40-yard dash time fell to 4.56 seconds, compared to his 4.59-second showing at the NFL combine earlier this month. Take that time at face value, and Hamilton’s improvement was hardly enough to warrant notice. But NFL scouts have not taken that time at face value. Notre Dame’s Pro Day included only hand timing, no laser timing, and some have suggested his actual time on Friday was closer to 4.7 seconds.

“I still didn’t do as well as I wanted to do,” Hamilton said of the reported 4.56 time. “It was faster than the combine, so I’ll take it. … It’s over now.”

Hamilton said he had wanted to run as fast as 4.47 seconds.

To repeat, the NFL draft process is an exercise in smoke-and-mirrors claims buttressed by cloak-and-dagger leaks to the media. Regardless of his 40 time, Hamilton should be assured of top-10 pick status, and he still may end up a top-5 pick.

The sole truth that matters will be revealed only on April 28.

Running back Kyren Williams also improved his 40-yard dash time, knocking it down to 4.54 seconds from a 4.65 showing at the combine. That drop is obviously more distinct than Hamilton’s 0.03 seconds, moving Williams closer to the time he wanted, no matter the timing mechanisms, though the same doubts linger.

A few other Pro Day tidbits:
— Defensive tackle Kurt Hinish put up the most 225-pound bench press reps with 31. He also ran a 4.96-second 40-yard dash. Look for Hinish to be a notable undrafted free agent when the draft ends on April 30.
Linebacker Drew White ran the fastest 10-yard split in his 40-yard dash with a 1.6-second start. His 4.67-second 40-yard dash showed the ceiling on White’s top-end speed, but his acceleration was better than Hamilton’s (1.68 seconds), Williams’ (1.62 seconds) and even Division III receiver Noah Thomas (1.65 seconds), involved in the Pro Day as a workout partner of quarterback Jack Coan.
— Offensive guard Cain Madden managed 24 reps on the bench press, which would have tied him for 12th at the combine among 18 participants.

A FIRST PREDICTION
Spending the weekend with family before some computer troubles knocked these words back 24+ hours, one moment of work did arise. An old friend living in Los Angeles asked if he should keep Notre Dame’s trip to USC in mind when he books Thanksgiving travel. (Yes, some people plan that far ahead. No, it is not a familiar phenomenon.)

The honest response?

“Hmmmm no. Probably 9-2.”

The Irish will be double-digit underdogs at Ohio State to open the season (158 days) and losing one more game before the season finale will be more likely than not, particularly with both Clemson and BYU representing distinct challenges.

Forecasting how that Thanksgiving Saturday will pan out is harder than ever given the turnover at USC, but a 10-2 or 9-3 debut season from Marcus Freeman would perfectly divide Irish fans’ opinions.

This is not the in-depth win total Over/Under analysis; that will come some Monday between now and June. But it should give an idea of what to expect in that conversation, as well.

INSIDE THE IRISH
Freeman Era begins with a leadership vacuum for Notre Dame roster
Young running back group key to steadying Notre Dame’s offense
Depth and multiplicity remain the pillars of Notre Dame’s defense under Al Golden

OUTSIDE READING
NFL mock draft 2022: Mel Kiper’s new predictions for all 32 first-round picks, filling team needs after free agency
Ranking the strongest position groups in the 2022 NFL draft
Tragic crash brings ex-Notre Dame teammates Greer Martini, Dillan Gibbons back together
The racial imbalance in college football coaching
Fox gets extra Big Ten game for early Buck exit
Kirk Herbstreit adds Amazon to ESPN duties
Ukrainian Archbishop Borys Gudziak named 2022 commencement speaker
‘We’re going to get you out’: A U.S. basketball player’s terrifying escape from Ukraine