DENVER — Two of the NFL Draft’s best receivers were from the University of Alabama. John Elway landed one, Jerry Jeudy, in the first round. In the second round, Elway drafted a near clone of the other top Bama receiver, Henry Ruggs III.
If all goes right with KJ Hamler, the 46th-overall pick out of Penn State, the Broncos will be asking themselves: “Who is Henry Ruggs?”
“I bring to the table speed, quickness, playmaking ability,” Hamler told the Denver media on Friday night, minutes after being drafted by Denver. “I’m versatile. I can play outside, I can play in the slot and I can return kicks and punts. I’m a playmaker and I’ve got a chip on my shoulder at all times. I’ve been the underdog my whole life.”
At 5-foot-9, 178 pounds, Hamler is even smaller than Ruggs — 5-foot-11, 188 pounds — but just as blazing fast.
At the NFL Combine, Ruggs stole the show running a near-record-breaking 4.27 40-yard dash. While Hamler was sidelined from the sprint due to a hamstring injury — which is now fully healed — he says he wouldn’t have just been fighting with Ruggs for the fastest 40-yard dash in 2020, but ever.
“I wasn’t going to say I was going to break the record, but I was going to be in the equation. I was going to be in the conversation,” Hamler said, ironically out of breath after celebrating being drafted with his family. “[A] 4.2 [40-yard dash] was the only thing in my mind — mid-4.2, high-4.2. That was the only thing I was going to run… When I was training I was running real good.”
John Ross’ record 4.22 40-yard dash would have been on notice. But even if Hamler wouldn’t have touched it, much like Ruggs, a sub-4.3 speed is nearly unheard of in the NFL.
In fact, one of the fastest players in the NFL over the past decade didn’t even run a sub-4.3 40 at the combine. Speedster DeSean Jackson, who Hamler molds his game after, ran a 4.35 40 back at the 2008 combine.
“DeSean Jackson is the main guy that I play like,” Hamler stated. “I’ve been hearing it since I was younger. He’s my favorite player. He and Steve Smith are the people I look up to. From a playmaking ability — from taking a slant 60 yards for a touchdown and stuff like that — I think me and DeSean are real similar.”
In his 12-year career, Jackson has averaged a whopping 17.4 yards per catch. Not only that, but he also led the league in yards per catch four different years and topped 20 yards per catch over an entire season twice.
In college at Cal, Jackson averaged 15 yards per catch. In his two seasons at Penn State, Hamler averaged 16.9 yards per catch.
It wouldn’t be too shabby if Hamler followed in his favorite player’s footsteps on the field.
If landing Jeudy wasn’t good enough, the Broncos landed a clone of the top receiver picked in the draft.