Don't count out Denver Broncos WR DaeSean Hamilton yet.
Before the Denver Broncos got Alabama's Jerry Jeudy -- widely considered to be the best route runner in the 2020 NFL Draft class -- they drafted DaeSean Hamilton, considered perhaps the best route runner in the 2018 NFL Draft class coming out of Penn State.
Hamilton's first two seasons in the NFL, however, have not exactly gone according to plan. He's caught just 58 passes for 540 yards and three touchdowns, numbers many thought he might exceed just last year alone.
Though he was considered sure-handed coming out of college, Hamilton had a couple of critical drops in the 2019 season, and he will now face some stiff competition for playing time in 2020.
With that said, there's no reason to write Hamilton off just yet with the Broncos.
Hamilton's target share before & after Drew Lock
Before Drew Lock got into the starting lineup, targets were hard to come by for DaeSean Hamilton.
First 11 games of 2019 (Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen at QB)
- 24 targets
- 11 receptions
- 106 yards
- 0 touchdowns
Final 5 games of 2019 (Drew Lock at QB)
- 28 targets
- 17 receptions
- 191 yards
- 1 touchdown
Obviously, the numbers Hamilton put up over the final five games of the 2019 season were not other-worldly or Pro Bowl-caliber, but he was the clear no. 2 target in the passing game behind Courtland Sutton.
He finished the season strong with 11 receptions on 12 targets for 130 yards and a touchdown in the final two games against Detroit and Oakland, showing Drew Lock he was capable of being a reliable target in the short-intermediate passing game.
The rapport Hamilton established with Lock late last season is a good enough indicator that he's not going to be thrown to the wayside, but Hamilton is also entering his third season as a pro and will be much further ahead than the young receivers in terms of his mental approach to the game at this point.
Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler are so talented that the Broncos won't be able to keep them off the field a ton, but there's no question that Hamilton is going to get his opportunities in this third season and with his confidence seemingly growing over the last month of the season, he could push for more targets than anyone is currently expecting.