As the Penn State Nittany Lions enjoy one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, they’re also enjoying a breakout season from their biggest offensive weapon. Redshirt sophomore receiver KJ Hamler was an explosive weapon last season, but he lacked a level of consistency to be considered a great 2020 NFL Draft prospect.
In 2018, he had 7 games in which he failed to reach 60 or more receiving yards. This season, he only has one such game. He also only managed 5 receiving touchdowns last year, and he has 7 already this year. His evolution as a consistent receiving threat has been the major difference between last year and this season. What else makes Hamler a legit draft prospect?
At 5’9 176, Hamler doesn’t posses the alpha size that some covet. Lucky for him, the NFL has started to move towards receivers that can separate over guys with great size. While he lacks elite size, he may be the fastest player in the country. For his career, Hamler averages nearly 18 yards per reception, a direct correlation to his game-breaking speed. Throughout the recent weeks, he has started gaining national attention, thanks mostly to his explosive plays as Penn State’s number one weapon. Here, his speed is shown on full display as he dismantles soft coverage and scores a 23-yard touchdown.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 20, 2019
Hamler isn’t just vertically fast though; he’s also swift of foot and can move horizontally with ease. When the balls in his hands, I believe Hamler is the most difficult player to tackle in the entire country. His YAC ability is off the charts, and he can score on a ball thrown behind the line of scrimmage or when it travels 50 yards through the air. Here, Hamler’s ability to make people miss is incredible, as he avoids six would-be tacklers for the first down and nearly gets into the endzone.
KJ Hamler (@Kj_hamler) is the hardest man to tackle in college football. This play shows how he can make players miss in a phone booth. He makes three defenders miss within 2 yards of space. He is one of the most electrifying players in the country.#WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/QHaJA8JpML
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) October 14, 2019
While Hamler possesses elite physical gifts, he’s also pleasantly refined. His routes possess dynamic breaks and convincing double moves. He’s a willing blocker, though his technique needs a ton of work. He also shows a ton of vision as a runner. He’s a threat out of the backfield and on end-arounds, and he’s also a threat to score as a returner. This type of versatility is requisite for someone of Hamler’s stature, especially as an NFL Draft prospect. Here, you see both his vision and jaw-dropping speed.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) October 20, 2019
2020 NFL Draft
KJ Hamler has become one of the nation’s premier receivers. He’s a threat to score at all times. He understands how to run crisp routes and combines that with his elite speed. He’s a natural separator. His hands are consistent and he can create yards for himself. He can take the top off a defense or score on a screen pass. His skill-set is easily translatable and teams will covet his multiple ways of putting points on the board.
I currently grade Hamler as a second-round prospect for the upcoming NFL Draft, and he’s a top 5 receiver on my board. He projects to be a dynamic weapon for any team.