I have a Devy Debrief double for you all this week, a couple of Big 10 wide receivers originally hailing from the Detroit area.
One went to play for Penn State, the other stayed home to play at Michigan, but from there the two’s college careers veered off in completely different directions.
KJ Hamler, a four-star athlete, went on to become one of the most electrifying and productive receivers in the conference. Donovan Peoples-Jones, on the other hand, underperformed to the lofty expectations set by his status as a five-star receiver, the best in the class of 2017 according to 24/7.
And yet, both project to be day-two NFL Draft prospects.
In a less-stacked class of receivers, KJ Hamler would have day one upside. While he will be and is being knocked for being undersized at 5-9/176, Hamler’s a receiver in the same mold as Hollywood Brown with the upside of Desean Jackson. And yes, I realize what I’m suggesting here. “Upside” doesn’t mean “sure thing” though.
That said, Hamler looks good both on paper and on film. In just two seasons at Penn State, the redshirt sophomore collected 98 receptions for 1658 yards and 13 scores, showing improvement from year one to year two. He added 87 career rushing yards and another score on the ground. In 2019, Hamler had four games of over 100 yards.
Hamler is the fastest player on the field with legit speed (if I had to guess) between 4.28 and 4.32, a true burner and deep threat with an extensive route tree and great hands. He tracks the ball very well on vertical routes and leaves defenders on the way to the endzone. Or he can take a simple 8-yard reception and turn it into a 93-yard touchdown as he displayed against Ohio State in 2018.
He’s also elusive in the open field and has great lateral quickness to evade defenders which contributes to him being an electric kick and punt returner with 1258 career return yards, so take note if you’re in leagues that award points for return yards. Hamler will be an extra nice addition to rosters in leagues with such scoring systems.
I have Hamler ranked 8th among receivers in the class of 2020.
Moving along now to Donovan Peoples-Jones, also known as “DPJ.” He’s the same exact size as Cooper Kupp at 6-2/208 but he played on a team with an anemic passing game with a frankly bad quarterback, and the best decision the junior could’ve made was to leave the situation in Ann Arbor and get onto an NFL team with an NFL quarterback where he can continue to grow as a receiver.
DPJ has talent, the ability is there but the production aspect is conspicuously missing with only 103 receptions for 1327 yards and 14 touchdowns in three years at Michigan, without posting a single 100-yard performance.
He’s an excellent athlete though and pops off the screen on film. He has good size, is fast, strong, a solid route runner, lines up all over the field, and is often open even when the quarterback isn’t finding him and getting the ball into his hands.
Peoples-Jones is also a very skilled punt returner with 723 career return yards and two touchdowns.
Like Terry McLaurin, who played for rival Ohio State, I see Peoples-Jones as one of those rare players that will be a better pro than he was in college.
For now, he’s a polarizing player and I’ve seen him ranked as high as the #7 receiver in this class on Bleacher Report to not even being ranked on Walter Football. Personally, he’s lucky 13 for me, a designation I set aside for a risky player I view as particularly boom or bust. DPJ fits the profile.
The bust potential is real, but the payoff could be excellent relative to where you can draft him as a late round flyer.
Overall, I like both of these players quite a bit, but as I alluded to earlier, I like Hamler a little better. Because of his production, there is better film available on him to build a stronger case but in the right situation, I think Peoples-Jones can also be a good NFL receiver.
Both of these players are young though and may require a year to acclimate to the NFL, so I recommend them for dynasty squads that don’t necessarily need a win-now piece.
That’s all for me today, thanks for reading!