K.J. Hamler has certainly found a way to turn lemons into lemonade. Hamler, the former Penn State receiver and current draft prospect, was unable to run at the combine after suffering a hamstring injury. To help give NFL teams an idea of the type of speed he brings to the table, Hamler's agents have sent teams his top speed while carrying the football during his last two seasons at Penn State, as covered in a feature on the receiver by NFL Network's Mike Garofolo.
The GPS information, provided by Penn State's sports-science staff, was recorded by a Catapult vest Hamler wore throughout his time with the Nittany Lions. Hamler's data would have put him in a tie for 13th among the fastest ball carriers in the NFL last season.
"My tape says it all. I'm very confident in my tape," Hamler said, per Garofolo. "But it would be nice to have a time, so coaches would stop asking me what I would've run."
Hamler (whose training staff believes he would have run in the "mid-4.2s" at the combine) is part of a talented receiving class that also includes Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb, Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, Clemson's Tee Higgins, LSU's Justin Jefferson, Colorado's Laviska Shenault, Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk, TCU's Jalen Reagor and Baylor's Denzel Mims, among many others. A projected second-round pick, Hamler, who is tabbed as the 59th-best player and the 10th-best receiver in CBS Sports pre-draft prospect rankings, has already conducted virtual interviews with several teams, including the Ravens and Eagles, he told Garofolo.
The Ravens, who are in desperate need of a receiver, own the 28th and 55th overall picks in the draft, and are expected to use one of those picks on a wideout. Philadelphia, with the 21st and 53rd picks, are also in a prime position to select Hamler, who was recently compared to former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson by Anthony Hobgood, one of Hamler's trainers at EXOS in Gulf Breeze, Florida.
Despite his small stature (he checks in at 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds), Hamler made plenty of big plays during his two active seasons at Penn State, catching 98 passes for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 15.9 yards per catch. He was also a valuable special teams performer, averaging 23.5 yards per kickoff return.
Among Hamler's main skills is his ability to turn short slant passes into large gains, something he displayed on his 93-yard touchdown reception against Ohio State in 2018. His showcased his speed on numerous occasions during his time at Penn State that included his 23-yard touchdown reception during the Nittany Lions' 2019 victory Michigan. He also caught a 53-yard touchdown pass in that game, showing that he can make big plays down the field despite not being the biggest of receivers.
Hamler certainly made an impression on former Buckeyes cornerback Jeff Okudah, who is projected as a top-10 pick in the draft. Okudah only needed four words when asked about the challenges he faced going up against Hamler during his time at Ohio State.
"Ultimate speed, ultimate quickness," Okudah said of Hamler, who will now look to showcase his speed at football's highest level.