No matter what age of football it is, speed is king. Of course, over the course of the evolution of the game, speed has become more and more prevalent, as offenses have become more creative with how to manufacture space for their best athletes. And here in the modern age, speed is more important than ever.
Denver Broncos wide receiver KJ Halmer has speed. This has never been in doubt. During his Penn State days, the smaller-sized wide receiver wearing No. 1 for the Nittany Lions could be seen terrorizing poor slot defenders with his release, his ability to eat up space, his explosiveness in and out of his breaks, and his vertical speed. In the first preseason game of his second season in the NFL, we got a glimpse of that speed once again.
Hamler finished his first season as a pro with four starts and 13 games played. He hauled in 30 of his 56 targets for 381 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers were fine, but when you specifically look at his 12.7 yards-per-catch and his 56% catch percentage, those are the numbers that can see a significant boost this upcoming season—and by the looks of that clip, we’re well on our way.
After that clip shown above, opposing head coach Mike Zimmer had this to say about Hamler’s score.
“The funny thing—I guess not funny but—the little kid that caught the long touchdown pass, we practiced against him for two days,” Zimmer said. “You’d think those guys would know his speed and what he’s done. They went one-on-one against him.”
Outside of Zimmer calling Hamler a “little kid,” that’s the difference between some guys who are fast and some guys who are world-class fast. Hamler is world-class fast. It doesn’t matter how many times you see them in practice, you can’t keep up.
That’s what Hamler brings to the Broncos; that’s why he was picked at the top of the second round a year ago, and that’s why he’s a legitimate option to be a big part of the Broncos’ passing game plan, even with Courtland Sutton returning.
With Sutton back from injury and Jerry Jeudy, well, being Jerry Jeudy, those are going to be the top two passing options in Denver. But then the battle for No. 3 might come down to who’s the quarterback. If the Broncos opt for Drew Lock as their starter, they likely do so under the expectation they want to stretch the field and make the most out of his big arm. That’s where Hamler could come in. But if the Broncos decide to start the more conservative Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, veteran Tim Patrick comes into play for the WR3 role as a reliable, more underneath option.
Hamler could have plenty of value regardless of who the quarterback is, but for this particular season, exactly how much work he gets may vary. Regardless, not every team in the league has the luxury of trotting out the speed Hamler possesses. The Broncos would be wise to use it wherever and however they can.
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