KJ Hamler committed to Penn State over Michigan State and Oregon, and although he was a four-star prospect, he didn’t come to Happy Valley without concerns. The 5-foot-9, thin-framed Hamler tore his ACL heading into his senior high school season. Fortunately for Penn State, the wide receivers corps was deep during Hamler’s true frosh year (2017), which allowed for him to take extra time (see: redshirt) when coming back from his ACL.
Once Hamler got onto the field, it was clear the kid was special. In his first game following his redshirt season, he came up with two crucial plays — the “no, no, no, YES” kick return and the game-tying touchdown — to help the Nittany Lions stave off an upset bid from App State.
In all, Hamler ended his Penn State career with 98 receptions for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns — very solid numbers for a dude who only played two seasons of college football.
What You’re Getting
One of the fastest members of this NFL draft class. Sure, Hamler doesn’t have top-tier size at 5-foot-9, 176 pounds, but the kid can absolutely fly. He was reported to have run a sub-4.3 forty during his time at Penn State, and while he might not have quite carried that number over to the combine had he run, I can say with quite certainty that he would have ran sub-4.4.
I mean, you don’t take a slant pass to the house against Ohio State unless you are stupid fast.
The thing with Hamler though is that he isn’t just simply fast. He’s incredibly shifty, nimble, and knows how to make guys miss — as evidenced on this punt return against Kent State.
The downside to Hamler — outside of his size — is that he’s a little too drop-happy. As PFF has noted, Hamler dropped 12 “catchable” balls this past season, which means his drop rate on catchable balls was just a tick under 17%. So while Hamler can turn absolutely nothing into a touchdown, he also brings with him the downside of dropping a crucial chain-moving 3rd and six.