The Denver Broncos surprised many by selecting wide receivers in back-to-back rounds to open the 2020 NFL Draft. In round one, it was Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and in round two, it was Penn State's KJ Hamler.
While those in the know in Denver media were well aware that the Broncos could double-dip at the wide receiver position early in the draft, many fans were surprised when the Hamler pick was made. Hamler's speed and explosiveness on the field was renowned but after taking Jeudy at pick No. 15 overall, many fans expected Denver to go with an offensive tackle or cornerback at pick 46.
However, thanks to a report by KUSA's Mike Klis, we now have additional insight into the Broncos' thought process leading to the Hamler pick and also which coach was pounding the table for him the loudest.
The Broncos like TCU's Jalen Reagor, despite his near-disastrous Combine performance. NFL scouts and coaches could see through Reagor's botched 40 time and just go off his clear and obvious speed that jumped off the screen on tape.
The Eagles took him off the board in round one, which left Hamler as the guy Head Coach Vic Fangio really wanted on Day 2. Director of Player Personnel Matt Russell told Broncos TV after the draft that Fangio was a "big driver behind Hamler".
As a long-time defensive coordinator, and the guy who still calls the plays on gameday for the Broncos, Fangio is intimately familiar with the type of receivers who give him the biggest fits on gameday.
“I think any time you get a receiver that’s hard to cover, that stresses the defense," Fangio told local reporters on April 23. "It’s as simple as that."
Fangio views Hamler through that prism, which should excite fans. Hamler's purported and unofficial 40 time going into the draft was believed to be a 4.27 but based on the Broncos' own testing based on timing his game-speed on tape, the team brass believed he might be even faster. In fact, after clocking Hamler on a kick return, Fangio timed him at a 3.93s.
If true, Hamler would have beaten Alabama's Henry Ruggs III for the fastest 40 time at the Combine. But Hamler didn't run, and thanks to the pandemic, his Penn State pro day got canceled as well.
Fortunately for him, Hamler is so dynamic that it was palpable for NFL coaches and scouts just watching his film. Everyone assumed that GM John Elway was the impetus for the Broncos' demand to add speed to the offense this offseason but it turns out Coach Fangio had a lot to do with it, too.
Either way, it all bodes well for Drew Lock heading into year two. Suddenly, the young, charismatic QB has an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions. With new OC Pat Shurmur alongside, as well as QBs Coach Mike Shula, the Broncos are loaded for bear on this 2020 hunt.