When Tyler Wilson announced he was going back to Arkansas for his senior year, many wondered how he would perform as he was losing his top three receivers to the NFL Draft. The next man up was Cobi Hamilton, who became Wilson’s favorite target to the tune of 90 catches for 1,335 yards and 5 touchdowns. While Hamilton had a productive season, he left too many plays on the field and could have easily eclipsed 100 catches had he caught the majority of passes he dropped this year. Hamilton absolutely has tools and athleticism to be a productive player at the next level, but he has deficiencies he has to improve if he wants to last on an NFL roster.
Hamilton brings a good build and above average strength to the position which allows him to be a north-south runner with the ball in his hands. He does not waste time and gets as many yards as possible with every opportunity. He has brings good quickness and agility allowing to play quicker than fast, but he does play fast even if that does not translate in straight vertical routes.
Hamilton’s best attribute is how quickly he transitions from pass catcher to receiver and it allows him to play much faster than he times. As a result, he is a big threat for yards after the catch and has numerous examples where he takes a reasonably short pass and is able to take it all the way to the end zone. Hamilton is also fearless going across the middle and these two qualities combined make Hamilton a great weapon in the slot. He is most effective when he is running slants, crosses and drags across the middle of the field that allow him to catch the ball on the move without having to pause. While he might be more suited to play in a horizontal based offense, he projects the best to playing in the slot and every scheme can use those types of routes.
Hamilton brings an aggressive mindset when it comes to running routes and attacking defensive backs and combined with his strength, it enables him not to be bodied out or out muscled for space. If he can be more precise with his routes, this will be helpful to create separation.
The biggest areas that really hold Hamilton back are his catch radius and concentration when it comes to catching the football, resulting in a large number of drops. Hamilton has smaller than average hands and is far more comfortable catching the ball with his body than with his hands. In addition, he does not catch many passes outside of his torso. He is not someone who is unable to catch the football because he is afraid of being hit; rather he has trouble focusing on the football through traffic with bodies flashing in front of it. He also needs to do a better job of recognizing when he needs to become the defensive back to prevent an interception.
Arkansas’s route tree is slightly unconventional, so Hamilton will need to adjust to the NFL’s version and he needs to be more precise in how he runs them. He is relatively efficient when it comes to sharp cuts and coming back to the football, but when it comes to 45-90 degree cuts, he is more inclined to round them off.
Hamilton has the build to be a good blocker for the position, but he looks at blocking as something he has to do rather than something that is important to him.
Hamilton’s strength, quickness and acceleration combined with his fearlessness to attack the middle would allow him to be a tremendous weapon in the slot. Increasingly, the NFL is putting more emphasis on the importance of this position and what it can provide for an offense, so Hamilton could have a long, productive career from this position. However, if he is unable to improve his hands and catch radius, he will never be the player he can be and that could ultimately short circuit his career. Hamilton does offer significant potential and is scheme diverse, so teams could be willing to see if they can get him to be more consistent weapon as early as the fourth round but more likely in the fifth or sixth round with a small possibility of going undrafted if teams deem his issues catching the ball too big of a problem. Hamilton will get his shot to make a roster and it will up to him to show teams he can improve and contribute.