Eagles Heavily Linked to Speedy Penn State WR

K.J. Hamler

Getty K.J. Hamler runs for Penn State.

Miles Sanders has been recruiting one former teammate hard. Now that player is publicly voicing his desire to wear midnight green.

Penn State’s KJ Hamler didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine due to a lingering hamstring injury but he has been clocked at 4.27 in previous outings. Hamler has been using GPS-tracking technology to chart his time and recent estimates have him hovering around 21.76 miles per hour, per NFL.com. That number would be on par with DeSean Jackson’s speed if true.

More importantly, the 5-foot-9, 178-pounder wants to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. On Saturday, he told ESPN’s Louis Riddick that he has talked to the Eagles “a lot.” Sanders and another Penn State alum on the Eagles’ roster, Shareef Miller, have both been in his ear.

“I talk to Miles a lot. Miles is one of my best friends,” Hamler told Riddick, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Yeah, we talked about me playing for the Eagles, and seeing if they’re interested or not. I’ve talked to the Eagles a lot, actually, but I can only go to one team, and the one team that’s going to get me is going to get 100-percent, 120-percent out of me.”

Miles Sanders Putting in ‘Good Word’ for Hamler

KJ Hamler’s small size may cause him to drop in the NFL draft. He’s projected to be a late second-round pick — the Eagles hold the No. 53 overall pick — and his blazing speed could make him a dangerous slot receiver.

One of his biggest fans is Miles Sanders. The two played together at Penn State and the running back has openly lobbied for the Eagles taking him. Hamler recorded 98 receptions for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns in two years for the Nittany Lions.

Hamler has encouraged the speculation, too. He told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that he hoped Sanders had put in a “good word” for him. Sanders confirmed that he did. Plus, he told ESPN that he hopes he gets to call out Hamler’s name at the upcoming draft. Sanders has been chosen to announce the second-round pick for Philly.

“It would be great to play with Miles,” Hamler said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I hope he put in a good word.”

Hamler’s Medical History is Huge Risk

No one is denying KJ Hamler’s abilities to get open and stretch the field. He’s proven he can do that. However, his troublesome injury history may push him down draft boards.

Hamler’s hamstring injury forced him to miss the NFL Scouting Combine. He also suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his freshman season at Penn State. The combination of those ailments and his undersized frame could make him a collision liability in the middle of the field. He’s basically a mirror image of Nelson Agholor.

That’s not ideal for a slot receiver. Hamler has also struggled with drops and is an unpolished route runner. For an Eagles team trying to win a championship now, he might not be a good fit. He’s probably a guy the team should avoid.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com expressed those concerns in his evaluation while calling him a “high-risk, high-reward draft pick.” Here is what he wrote:

Explosive slot target who hits the scales as a lightweight but could have heavyweight impact on games. Hamler’s blazing speed is used solo and in route combinations to stress secondaries and create big plays. He had an alarming number of drops in 2019 and the routes are ragged, but his athleticism and separation burst on all three levels helps mitigate those concerns. He’s a smallish slot who isn’t built for the tough yardage and could have durability concerns if he’s run into too many collisions. However, speed kills and his game-breaking potential on all three levels will be enticing as a high-risk, high-reward draft pick.

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