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'I'm a playmaker': Broncos add another weapon to offense in speedy KJ Hamler

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If the Broncos got a route-running technician in Jerry Jeudy, they got pure speed in KJ Hamler.

The Broncos drafted the Penn State product with the 46th-overall selection on Friday night, and the 2019 second-team All-Big Ten selection could add an explosive element to Denver's offense.

"I think I bring to the table speed, quickness, play-making ability," Hamler said Friday. "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 an underdog my whole life, so being in this situation right now and being part of the Broncos' organization is amazing. I'm going to give them 150 percent, 24/7, 365, you know? That's me."

Hamler, in two seasons at Penn State, tallied 98 receptions for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns. He led the team in receptions in consecutive seasons. He was also an All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2019 as a return specialist.

And while he didn't run at the Combine because of a hamstring injury, Hamler said there that he ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash during training. That would've tied with Henry Ruggs III for the fastest time among all wideouts.

Despite having eligibility to return to Happy Valley, Hamler decided to declare for the draft following the 2019 season.

"I didn't know I was coming out at first, and basically I had an end-of-the-year draft meeting with my head coach, coach [James] Franklin, and my wide receivers coach, my mother, my father, my mentor — and I was just surprised by the grades I was getting," Hamler said. "Second round was the main grade I was getting.

"… So I talked it over with my parents and my family and they thought I was ready for the NFL. … There wasn't no doubt in my mind I was ready for the NFL. I'm excited."

While he may have been ready for the league, he wasn't expecting the Broncos to draft him. He spoke once with Wide Receivers Coach Zach Azzanni, but otherwise he said he had no contact with the team. Azzanni, Hamler said, previously tried to recruit him to the University of Tennessee.

Hamler does know Broncos receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who was at Penn State when Hamler was a freshman.

"I'll be more comfortable going into an organization knowing I know somebody," Hamler said. "He showed me the ropes as a freshman coming in at Penn State. I've always kept in touch with him."

Hamler will also reunite with Jeudy, the Broncos' first-round pick. The two met in 2016 at "The Opening," which is a showcase for top high-school talent. Hamler, Jeudy, Jalen Reagor and Tua Tagovailoa were all on the same team at the event.

"I'm blessed to be with him, man," Hamler said of Jeudy. "He's a great player."

Hamler, who said he is fully healthy after he suffered a hamstring earlier this offseason, could be quite the complementary piece to Jeudy and Courtland Sutton.

"DeSean Jackson is the main guy I think I play like," Hamler said. "I've been hearing it since I was younger. He's my favorite player. Him and Steve Smith are the people I look up to. I think from a play-making ability, from taking a slant 60 yards for a touchdown and stuff like that — I think me and DeSean are real similar."

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