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Damar Hamlin declares for the 2021 NFL draft

The Pitt safety led the team in pass breakups, with seven in 10 games

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 UCF at Pitt Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pitt safety Damar Hamlin declared for the 2021 NFL draft on Saturday. Hamlin was the fourth Pitt player to make such an announcement in the last 24 hours, as Patrick Jones II, Jason Pinnock and Rashad Weaver all declared on Friday, joining Paris Ford and Jaylen Twyman, who declared earlier in the year.

“Being a kid from Pittsburgh, playing for the hometown team has always been the dream,” Hamlin said. “Knowing the pride of the Steel City, it has truly been an honor to play for and represent as a Pittsburgh Panther. After discussions with my family, coaches, and having the full support of my teammates, I have decided to declare for the NFL draft and take the next steps in my professional career.”

Hamlin was a standout on the Pitt defense for the past three seasons. He led all Panthers defenders in pass breakups and tackles in 2020, with seven pass breakups and 67 tackles in 10 games. The 6’1”, 195-pound safety also ranked second on the team in interceptions during the 2020 season, with two.

Saturday’s news was expected from the McKees Rocks native, as he missed Pitt’s final game of the 2020 season alongside Weaver. As both players are seniors with plenty of draft buzz, there were reports that they had shifted their focus to draft preparation, and that much has now been confirmed in both cases.

Hamlin will next take the field alongside Weaver in the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl, as he accepted an invitation on Friday to play in the postseason all-star game. The 22-year-old safety arguably has more to gain in the event than Weaver, though, as he is considered a mid-round draft pick and could give his stock a boost with a solid performance in the game.

ESPN considers Hamlin the No. 148 overall prospect in the draft, which places him just six spots behind his longtime defensive backfield partner Ford, who is at No. 142. He is also considered the 13th-ranked safety in the draft, while Ford is at No. 11. CBS Sports and Pro Football Focus both have a dimmer view of Hamlin, as they do not count him among their top 149 or top 200 prospects, respectively.