As the Broncos head toward training camp, DenverBroncos.com is taking a detailed look at several members of this year's rookie class. And aside from Denver's coaching staff, who better to call than their college coaches? These players honed their techniques while at school, and their coaches know better than most what to expect from these rookies.
The series continues with Penn State head coach James Franklin, who reflected on the time he spent with receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Aric DiLalla: How would you describe DaeSean's game?
James Franklin: He's just a guy that's conducted himself like a pro for about three years now. Everybody at Penn State within our organization was very confident that DaeSean was going to go to the Senior Bowl and perform well. Once coaches and scouts had a chance to kind of work with him and see him perform in person in terms of route running, in terms of play making, in terms of understanding the playbook, in terms of how to attack techniques — we all knew he was going to do extremely well. This is something he's very passionate about. He's one of the hardest-working guys on our team — if not the hardest-working guy on our team — at really working on his craft. I think you're going to see a guy that probably is going to have an opportunity to perform at a higher level than most rookies and not just based on physical attributes, not a guy who's just physically gifted in terms of speed, in terms of quickness, in terms of size. He has that, but the thing that really separates him is his maturity, his approach, his passion for the techniques and the fundamentals of his position. I think those are the things that will jump out about him pretty early.
AD: The Broncos' head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback have all talked about DaeSean as a steal in the draft. Do you think he was a little bit undervalued coming out of school?
JF: Well, yeah, because I think it goes back to what I was saying before. Everybody puts such an emphasis — which I understand — just on raw horsepower in terms of numbers. In terms of the vertical jump, in terms of [the] 40[-yard dash], in terms of a lot of things like that — and I get that. You want to have as many of those raw ingredients to start with and then allow great NFL coaches to kind of build on it from there. But you're talking about a guy that, when you watched him at the Senior Bowl, his route running was far superior to most of the guys there and was really able to make some really good defensive backs struggle to cover him. [He] was able to create separation with just understanding how to use his body and his footwork [and] how to create separation and become a friendly target for the quarterback. To me, he's that guy that the quarterback's going to love on third down. He's going to be very reliable. He's going to make a bunch of contested catches. He's going to understand the big picture. He's going to be a great teammate. He's going to be unselfish. There's a lot of value in that.
… I would probably describe him as a high-value, low-risk type of guy. Some of these guys may have the tremendous horsepower in terms of speed, vertical jump, body type — those types of things — but there's a fair amount of risk you're taking on, because those guys have maybe never been able to maximize their talents. Here's a guy that's really been working on his craft for a number of years, not just when he showed up to the NFL. He's been doing it for a number of years.
AD: From a personal side, many people have heard about DaeSean taking care of his brother and what type of guy he is, but are you able to shed more light on who DaeSean the person is?
JF: I think obviously because of his background, some of the dynamics of his family — you're looking at a guy who's very mature for his age. He's had a lot of life experiences. He's had a lot of responsibility on his plate at an early age. He's a guy that's very appreciative of his blessings, a guy that has a lot of patience with his others. You're talking about a guy that's caring and thoughtful and intelligent. I think the way he was raised by mom and dad and some of his family dynamics with his brother gives him a unique perspective on the world and on relationships and I think has had a huge impact on how mature he is and how hard working he is. Another thing that impacts him is him thinking about [how] he's going to be the caretaker for his brother probably for the rest of his life. With those things comes a lot of maturity and a lot of perspective.