The waiting game

CLEMSON — Michael Hamlin was expecting the 2009 NFL Draft to be a long and stressful two days for him and his family.

Unfortunately for the former Clemson safety, it might be a longer weekend than he was expecting.

Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber, who has Hamlin rated as his No. 9 safety overall, said Hamlin's stock has dropped in recent weeks and his once third- to fourth-round projection may have slipped to the fifth or sixth.

"Mike Hamlin is a really good player, but his speed is a concern," Steuber said. "He ran a 4.6 at the combine. He is a guy that has good size for the strong safety, but I don't think strong safeties are as much of a need at the next level as free safeties because strong safeties are not looked at as game changers.

"I think Hamlin has the ability to be a game changer, but I think his ability all around and being able to move laterally is a concern, especially if he is going to get there over the top. I don't think it necessarily is a big thing, but I think his durability and speed is the biggest issue with Hamlin."

Hamlin's durability issues have come after he tweaked his hamstring in a workout prior to Clemson's Pro Day last month. Though the 6-foot-2, 214-pound strong safety gutted it out and still performed, team's that were once interested have backed off some.

Other teams have told Hamlin they like the way he plays and that he has good football speed. Some of those teams he visited and worked out for, which were New England, Dallas, Atlanta and Oakland.

The Falcons have liked Hamlin for a while now and could pick him up in the middle rounds should he still be on the board. The Cowboys are also in need of a safety and could take Hamlin at a great value in the later rounds.

The Raiders are also shopping.

"He is kind of a tweener," Steuber said. "He is a very good player, but I think teams are being cautious with him.

"This safety class is also intriguing as well. It doesn't have that elite safety, but it is a class that has some very good safeties and I think Hamlin is experiencing the depth in the safety class and he may just be in that mix with a bunch of other good guys like Chip Vaughn (Wake Forest) and Terence Moore (Troy)."

There is no need for NFL teams to throw caution to the wind when reviewing Hamlin's career at Clemson. The Lamar (S.C.) native recorded 14 career interceptions for 243 yards, while breaking up 22 overall and recording 12 tackles for a loss.

He was also one of the Tigers best tacklers with 326 in his career, including 110 this past season.

Steuber feels Hamlin might be a victim of his old team's lack of success in 2008. He says Clemson's fall from a preseason top 10 to a 7-6 overall record was viewed by some NFL teams as a negative when they started looking at former Tigers in this year's draft.

"It's unfortunate that some of these good guys from Clemson have fallen," he said. "I think some teams are looking at the record from last year and the way they played. No one is really popping out at them, and I think they are really fallen by the waste side because of what they did last year."

Hamlin hopes he doesn't have to wait too long to hear his name called out because he is already going to be stressed out enough as it is.


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