K.J. Hamler was a Michigan boy that came to State College, Pennsylvania as a three-star recruit (four-star recruit from ESPN) who also ran track in high school. He began in the Detroit area before transferring to IMG Academy in Florida.
Hamler redshirted as a freshman in 2017 due to an ACL tear before making 13 starts in 2018. He was named to the Freshman All-American team by the Football Writers Association of America as a kick returner. Hamler averaged 26.2 yards per kick return in 2018. On offense, Hamler caught 42 passes for 754 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2019, Hamler caught 56 passes for 904 yards and eight touchdowns and averaged 21.4 yards per kick return. He was voted to the All-Big Ten second team by coaches and media on offense and All-Big Ten honorable mention as a returner. After two seasons with the Nittany Lions, Hamler chose to declare early for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Data courtesy of SportsReference.com
Speed is without a doubt Hamler’s biggest asset, He didn’t get a chance to run the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine because of a hamstring injury but there’s no question he would have posted one of the fastest times in the drill. It would have been really fun to watch his run compared to Henry Ruggs and his 4.27-second 40.
Hamler is an excellent route-runner and works well at all levels of the field. He looks like the prototypical slot receiver in the NFL with his ability to work defenders.
His size is obviously a factor. Whichever NFL team selects him needs to be able to scheme Hamler in a way that he won’t get physically abused too much by opposing defensive backs. There are some concerns with his hands and his catching ability.
Three Plays on Tape
Penn State's K.J. Hamler went AIRBORNE for this TD ✈️
— ESPN (@espn) October 13, 2019
Know this ball was underthrown but not going to see many LBs make the play Josh Uche did. Running downfield with KJ Hamler and finishing the play. Special athlete. pic.twitter.com/xeeDzj7QRs
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) April 6, 2020
— Kevin Boilard (@KevinBoilard) October 20, 2019
Hamler projects as a very good slot receiver. He’ll never be the biggest receiver on the field, but his speed will make him one of the most athletic receivers on the field. He has room to add to his build to become more aggressive with defensive backs. He likely won’t see much action on the outside, but that’s just fine for Hamler. He’ll make his money inside.
Draft Grade: Second-Third Round
NFL teams are going to fall in love with Hamler’s speed and in today’s NFL, that is critical. Despite the size and hands concerns, he is going to be very coachable in the NFL and he has athleticism that you can’t teach. He is a naturally-gifted athlete and he is going to be gone during Day 2 and may even hear his name called in the second round, even with such a deep class at wide receiver.
The Rams certainly make sense for a player like Hamler. He could fit in well with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds. L.A. has the ability to make a move for him if they want, now that they have two picks in the second round, whether Hamler falls to them at 52 or if they want to package those picks to ensure they get him higher up in the draft.