Chicago Bears Draft: Why K.J. Hamler must be selected with the 43rd overall pick

With two picks in the second round, the Chicago Bears can use one of them an offensive playmaker, and K.J. Hamler fits the bill. Here’s why.

With the Chicago Bears saying goodbye to Taylor Gabriel earlier this offseason, they lack another offensive weapon that will be vital for not only the team’s success but also for who ends up being named the quarterback. Right now, the Bears depth chart shows Cordarrelle Patterson as WR2 across from Allen Robinson, but he tallied just 83 receiving yards last season.

It remains to be seen whether Javon Wims or Riley Ridley will be the next weapon to step up, but I don’t think the Chicago Bears can take that chance. Holding the 43rd and 50th overall picks in the NFL Draft, there are several scenarios that can play out. One of those picks would seem to be reserved for offensive line help; however, signing Germain Ifedi to plug-in at right guard isn’t the worst idea.

He comes at an extremely reasonable price and is still just 25 years old. Several mock drafts have the Chicago Bears taking Lloyd Cushenberry from LSU for interior offensive line help, so it would seem logical to use the other second-round pick on an offensive weapon. That guy should be K.J. Hamler.

Measurables

At 5-foot-9, 178 pounds, Hamler is on the smaller side for an NFL receiver, but his versatility at Penn State cannot be ignored. He accounted for 31.7 percent of the Nittany Lions production last season playing from the slot. And while he didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, it’s easy to see on film that he can take the top off a defense.

As noted, he was limited by a hamstring injury that prevented him from performing at the NFL Combine. He had planned to run the 40-yard dash at Penn State’s pro day before the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.

Strengths

Hamler is a crisp route-runner, and due to his speed, he creates a lot of separation and averaged 16.1 yards-per-reception. With 15 reps on the bench press at the Combine, he’s strong for his frame and can shake press coverages easily. He is electric in the open field and averaged 8.4 yards after the catch for passes caught within the first ten yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

And with the uncertainty in both Tarik Cohen and Patterson’s future in Chicago, Hamler’s versatility returning kicks and punts is a huge plus. His 21.4 yards-per-return on kickoffs was good for 17th in the country for Power-Five schools with a minimum of 20 attempts.

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Weaknesses

Due to his frame, he’s not exactly a threat in terms of run blocking and is easily thrown aside. There’s not much he can do in the way of height, but another 10-15 pounds of muscle should be in the cards as I do worry about his durability in the NFL.

Evaluating a potential fit

If Hamler is there at number 43 overall, the Chicago Bears have to take him. The versatility he exudes doesn’t come along very often. Before Dede Westbrook, the NFL had not seen a skillset like Hamler’s since Percy Harvin back in 2009.

Next: 2020 NFL Draft profile, Anthony Gordon

He’d have an immediate impact for the Bears offense, one that needs to score points in 2020 to match the production of what figures to be a very talented defense. Hamler is the guy that can do that while taking the pressure off either Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles.

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