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KJ Hamler’s Explosiveness Makes Him A Potential Difference Maker In The NFL

KJ Hamler burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman for Penn State football during the 2018 season, quickly establishing himself as a dynamic playmaker in Ricky Rahne’s offense. His debut season was followed up by an even better 2019 — a season in which he was named second-team All-Big Ten by the conference’s coaches, the media, and the Associated Press.

On the final day of 2019, Hamler announced he would forgo his final two seasons of NCAA eligibility and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft. During his two-year career in Happy Valley, Hamler totaled 98 receptions for 1,658 yards and 14 total touchdowns (13 receiving, one rushing). His explosiveness as both a receiver and a returner made him incredibly valuable to James Franklin’s squad.

Unfortunately for Hamler, a hamstring injury sidelined him for most of NFL Scouting Combine activity, which included his much-anticipated 40-yard dash. He planned to run at Pro Day, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, Penn State’s Pro Day was swiftly canceled.

Nonetheless, Hamler is projected by most draft experts to be an early-to-mid second-round pick. If those projections turn out to be true, the 5’9″, 178-pound stud would be first Nittany Lion wide receiver be selected from the second round and earlier since Allen Robinson in 2014.

Hamler’s speed and playmaking ability are what is attractive for experts and potential teams. NFL Network draft analyst Lance Zierlein went so far as to compare Hamler to seven-year NFL veteran Tavon Austin.

“Explosive slot target who hits the scales as a lightweight but could have heavyweight impact on games,” Zierlein said. “Hamler’s blazing speed is used solo and in route combinations to stress secondaries and create big plays. He had an alarming number of drops in 2019 and the routes are ragged, but his athleticism and separation burst on all three levels helps mitigate those concerns.”

Zierlein went on to describe Hamler as a “high-risk, high-reward” type of prospect.

Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller released his post-free agency mock draft on April 1 and predicted the New York Jets would select Hamler at No. 48 overall. The Jets lost speedy receiver Robby Anderson this offseason, and while Hamler isn’t as tall as Anderson, he would fill a huge hole in New York’s offense.

Hamler’s speed would likely cause problems for any NFL defense. In his time at Penn State, his presence on the field required defenses to give him special attention even if he wasn’t getting the ball, which would open up opportunities for other playmakers.

Hamler is a dynamic, explosive receiver who will be able to stretch the field and make plays for any NFL offense. Any pro quarterback would be thrilled to have his playmaking ability at their disposal.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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