The 2020 NFL Draft class features a deep group of intriguing wide receivers and running backs. With so many good players, some intriguing prospects can slip through the cracks. It’s not necessarily that they’re not good, it’s that they have a lot of good players to compete with. In a different draft class, KJ Hamler likely would have been drafted higher.
After tearing his ACL as a senior in high school, Hamler redshirted his freshman season.
During his first full collegiate season, however, Hamler led Penn State in receptions and receiving yards. In fact, he had more receiving yards than Penn State’s second and third receivers put together.
In his redshirt sophomore season, Hamler led the Nittany Lions in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Hamler also returned kicks in both seasons, which is a positive indicator based on the hidden value of special teams stats.
Hamler dominated in college but was unable to participate in the combine because of a tweaked hamstring.
Hamler is known for his elite speed. John Elway clocked his 40-time by using a video of a 100-yard kick return. Hamler said he was clocked at 4.27 seconds while training for the 40-yard dash.
Not being able to flash his incredible speed at the combine likely negatively affected his draft position – he would have likely been able to give Henry Ruggs (the first wide receiver taken in the draft) a run for his money.
Hamler did weigh in at 178 pounds, which is far from ideal, but undersized players can still break out.
Using RotoViz’s Prospect Box Score Scout, we can see KJ Hamler’s most similar prospects.
Hamler’s most similar prospect is Marquise Brown. Brown was selected 25th overall by the Ravens in the 2019 NFL draft. Hamler was selected 46th by the Broncos in what looks to be a superior wide receiver class prior to the draft.
DeSean Jackson is another very similar prospect in terms of production and draft position. Hamler, Brown, and Jackson are compared below.
|KJ Hamler||Marquise Brown||DeSean Jackson|
|Hand Size||9 3/8||9||9 3/8|
Brown has the highest draft position of the three but it’s unclear as to how relevant that is, as all these prospects were selected in the top two rounds. Jackson broke out the earliest in college, but KJ Hamler didn’t play as a freshman and thus didn’t have the opportunity to break out any earlier.
While Jackson had the highest dominator rating, KJ Hamler and Brown topped him in target share. Hamler is actually the heaviest of the group and ties Jackson for the biggest hands. I included hand size because there is evidence to show that it matters when evaluating wide receiver prospects.
With two WR1 seasons, Jackson is living proof that receivers weighing less than 180 pounds can be successful. Through 12 seasons, Jackson has amassed 10,420 regular-season receiving yards and 55 receiving touchdowns.
Last year’s draft class may have been worse – but Brown was being selected as a first-round pick in most rookie drafts last season. Owners may not be happy that he played through a nagging foot injury last season but Brown looks poised for a ‘dangerous’ Year 2.
Falling all the way to the third round, KJ Hamler is currently being selected 28th overall in rookie drafts. A cheap price tag when compared with two of his most similar prospects.
2020 Offensive Outlook
Offensive system, quarterback play, and available targets are the most important variables when it comes to a landing spot. Without a dominant quarterback and with Drew Lock, the Broncos don’t have a high probability of becoming a dominant offense this season.
The good news is the Broncos are giving Drew Lock his opportunity right now and if he doesn’t produce, he’ll be replaced. The Broncos will eventually land a serviceable (or better) quarterback. We can knock him for a poor landing spot, but you would have avoided A.J. Brown for the same reason during last year’s rookie drafts.
With Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy ahead of Hamler on the depth chart, it’s unlikely that he’s going to see enough targets to be a fantasy starter in Year 1. That does hurt his value but where he’s being drafted, few players are going to produce in Year 1.
The biggest correlator of success for a prospect remains their draft position. At 46th overall, KJ Hamler was a high pick in a strong wide receiver class. His production profile and comparable prospects give owners reason for optimism. When a similar player was selected last season, he was a first-round pick in rookie drafts.
Due to missing the combine and a bad landing spot, Hamler is at a discount. With the negatives factored into his price, Hamler looks like a screaming bargain in early rookie drafts.