I’ve mentioned in the past that there’s little reason to play it safe with late-round draft picks because the cost of those selections is minimal. Well, the same is true for undrafted free agents since, outside of a very miniscule potential signing bonus, there’s no risk involved with signing them. That means teams should really be searching for high-ceiling players only; there’s no reason to bring in a known commodity with average athleticism when he’s unlikely to make the team anyway.
South Carolina State safety Jakar Hamilton is the perfect sort of undrafted free agent—highly athletic and someone who could make an impact down the road.
Hamilton played the 2010 season at Georgia before transferring to South Carolina State. He wasn’t academically eligible to play until 2012, working primarily as a return specialist and contributing some on defense. With such little playing time, it’s pretty easy to see why Hamilton wasn’t drafted.
Nonetheless, Hamilton is a great athlete who has put together some good tape. He’s 5-11 and 186 pounds with mid-4.5 speed. He also recorded a 10-5 broad jump and 40.5-inch vertical, so there’s obvious explosiveness to his game. Despite his small stature, Hamilton appears willing to come up to make hits. He had 40 tackles in eight games in 2012 and breaks down well to make plays in the open field.
Hamilton will play as a free safety at the next level. He doesn’t have top-end speed, but he’s fast enough that he could potentially play either the deep half or deep middle.
What I Like
In addition to Hamilton’s athleticism, I like that he seems to be an extremely hard worker. His college coach said he had an incredibly difficult battle to become eligible to play football in 2012, but he worked through it because he loves the game. There are lots of traits you can do without when assessing a prospect, but every one of them should love playing football and have a desire to improve.
What I Don’t Like
As it stands right now, Hamilton will have another uphill battle ahead of him to make the roster. It would be great to stash him on the practice squad for a year, but he might not make it there if he shows up in camp. The problem is that with Barry Church, Matt Johnson, Will Allen, Danny McCray, and J.J. Wilcox ahead of him, Hamilton really needs to play well to win a roster spot.
Grade: Fifth Round
Despite his issues and lack of experience, Hamilton should have been drafted. I’d give him a late-round grade with early-round talent.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.