DaeSean Hamilton left Penn State as the all-time career receptions leader, but took an interesting route to become the player who is now on the verge of hearing his name called during the 2018 NFL Draft.
Hamilton made a huge impact from the start of his career, leading the Big Ten in receptions as a redshirt freshman in 2014. He would then see his numbers decline the next two seasons. As a sophomore, he had a respectable 45 receptions for 580 yards and six touchdowns, playing second-fiddle to current Tampa Bay wideout Chris Godwin. As a junior, he struggled to find his role in the new offensive system under Joe Moorhead, and battled a case of the yips where his typically-incredible hands deceived him at times. However, he did find his groove toward the tail end of the season, setting up for a strong senior campaign.
Hamilton received praise throughout the offseaon following his junior year, and lived up to the hype coming from coaches and teammates. He became the leader of a talented but raw group of young receivers, and became Trace McSorley’s favorite target for Penn State’s high-flying offense that averaged just over 41 points per game. In his last season in State College, Hamilton finished with 53 catches for 857 yards and nine touchdowns, while averaging 16.1 yards per reception, while smashing Penn State’s all-time receptions total with 214. His touchdown count and yards per catch for the season were both easily career highs.
What You’re Getting
Following his junior season, Hamilton seemed to be the type of player who would have a memorable college career but no real opportunity in the NFL. One year later, he is climbing draft boards and a lock to be drafted, potentially as high as the late-third or early-fourth round. How did Hamilton manage such a major rise in that time? He was able to transform into a completely different wide receiver in time for his final year of eligibility.
From the start, Hamilton was known for his outstanding route-running abilities, footwork and (mostly) sure hands. However, during his senior season he added some much-needed strength to find the ability to fight off defenders. Week after week, he would make incredibly difficult catches in traffic. His ball location skills and body control improved greatly so that he regularly went up to make contested catches with one or two defenders draped over him.
Hamilton is known for his intense focus on the fundamentals and willingness to improve- something readily apparent to anyone who witnessed his transformation during his years as a Nittany Lion. He is a very coachable player who should be in store for a long and steady NFL career, and could easily break out and become one of the top hidden gems of the 2018 NFL Draft.