Four years ago, the LA Chargers had the 17th overall pick after a 9-7 season. There were multiple directions the team could have taken in the draft but the decision was essentially made for them as Derwin James — who was ranked in the top 10 on just about every big board — fell to the Chargers at 17.
This happened for two reasons. First, the safety position does not have as much positional value in the draft. So while James was top 10 in terms of talent, the value of the safety position lowered his draft stock. The second reason was injuries. James had injury concerns heading into the NFL that have unfortunately come back as James has played just two full seasons in four years.
Los Angeles is in a similar position in 2022. The Bolts have the 17th overall pick in the draft with a multitude of directions the team could take. Just like four years ago, the decision could be made for them, especially if another elite safety prospect falls all the way to the Bolts.
Could Kyle Hamilton actually fall to the LA Chargers at 17?
Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton has been ranked as a top-five prospect during the entire draft but in recent days, there is more momentum going against Hamilton than going for him. Many, including Matt Miller, have started to question Hamilton being a top 10 pick, especially after a not-so-impressive pro day.
In Daniel Jeremiah's latest mock draft, he has Hamilton falling outside the top 10 to the Washington Commanders with the 11th overall pick. The consensus now seems to be that Hamilton will not be a top-10 pick, and as we have seen in previous years, a prospect can continue to slide farther and farther than we expected.
So can Hamilton fall to the Chargers at 17? If we are assuming that he is a lock to not be taken in the top 10, then the teams standing between Hamilton and the Bolts are the Commanders, Vikings, Texans, Ravens and Eagles (twice).
I think every team from 11-14 can make the case for passing on Hamilton, especially if there are other talented prospects still on the board. The biggest hurdle for Hamilton falling to the Chargers is the Eagles having two picks right before the Chargers.
Safety is an area of need for the Eagles and with back-to-back picks in the first, they would gladly take Hamilton if he was there. Not only do they get the potentially elite prospect who fell, but they have another selection to also take someone who might have more positional value, like a receiver.
So while Hamilton might fall outside the top 10, I still would call it pretty unlikely that he falls to the Chargers at 17, but not impossible. If Kyle Hamilton is there on the board at 17 then there is not a doubt in my mind that Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley would pick him.
Telesco has historically picked the best player available in the first round and while safety is not a pressing need, it is a very important cog to Brandon Staley's defense and having Hamilton would make the secondary even more dangerous.