What is Denver Broncos rookie WR KJ Hamler’s most underrated trait?
At this point of the football offseason, dreaming up scenarios with your team’s newest players is pretty much all you’ve got, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting how much players can get together if at all.
The Denver Broncos made back-to-back selections of wide receivers atop the 2020 NFL Draft, a scenario I had fantasized about leading up to the NFL Draft but never really imagined possible.
When the Broncos pulled off the drafting of both Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, if you’re anything like me your mind started racing to ideas of how these two young guys along with Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Phillip Lindsay, and Melvin Gordon could get on the field and help the Broncos’ scoring skyrocket in 2020.
The excitement and anticipation of just seeing these guys on the field in orange and blue is heavy for me, and the only thing we can really do about it is turn on the college tape of these guys and keep on dreaming.
In the case of KJ Hamler, specifically, one thing stood out to me as I am re-watching his highlights for about the 100th time that might be his most underrated trait as a player — his run after the catch ability.
You might be thinking that trait isn’t underrated at all — everyone knows Hamler is fast, right?
While that may be true, being fast is only one fraction of the equation.
KJ Hamler’s dynamic open-field abilities
You always hear about guys with the kind of speed Hamler has in terms of their ability to ‘make plays in space’ but what does that mean?
It doesn’t mean the same thing for every guy.
For example, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross — the fastest 40-time in history at the Combine — is dangerous in space, but mainly in a straight line.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is dangerous in space because of his ability to run people over and break tackles.
KJ Hamler is 5-foot-9, 180 pounds when he’s had a few protein shakes.
What does he have to do to be dynamic in the open field besides being fast? Hamler excels not only at blazing by defenders with pure speed, but he sees the field extremely well and has the play strength to bounce off of tacklers when he needs to.
This play, in particular, shows that and shows why the Broncos were willing to spend two top 50 picks in one draft class on wide receivers.
I studied a ton of players for the 2020 NFL Draft, and this is perhaps the most impressive individual play I saw through it all.
The route and separation are outstanding, but right after he makes the catch, Hamler takes a pretty significant hit right at the waist. Most players his size would probably have gone down there, but it’s like he was ready for that hit or something.
He then explodes into the open field with his speed and acceleration, when a Maryland defender shows up in pursuit. Hamler stops on a dime and then fires up his feet again to charge upfield in a different direction, avoiding defenders all the way to the end zone.
This ability to make people miss after the catch is rare. It’s not just speed, but play strength, quickness, acceleration, field vision, body control, and a natural playmaking ability you don’t see in every football player.
KJ Hamler is a special player and the Broncos are probably fortunate he wasn’t able to work out at the 2020 Scouting Combine, otherwise he wouldn’t have been there with the 46th overall pick in the draft.