Kiszla vs. O’Halloran: How many touchdowns will Broncos receiver KJ Hamler score as a rookie?

Kiz: Desperately in need of a winning season, Broncos executive John Elway got a big thumbs up from you for his work in the draft, as well as receiving kudos from national NFL analysts for his offseason makeover of a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since winning Super Bowl 50. I’m a little more skeptical (imagine that). Let’s start here: How big an impact can we reasonably expect second-round pick KJ Hamler to make on the scoreboard in this offense?

O’Halloran: I do think No. 7 did a bunch of good things during the offseason, but my knee-jerk reaction to the Hamler pick is the same reaction I have now — will he get enough chances to justify taking him in the second round? I’ll get around to that in a minute, but the reasonable impact for Hamler should be modest. I looked at the last two drafts (2018-19) of second-round receivers. Among the nine players drafted, only Seattle’s D.K. Metcalf and Chicago’s Anthony Miller had more than five touchdowns as rookies. The other players had to get in line and wait their turn for a year, like the Broncos’ Courtland Sutton, who started 2018 as the No. 3 (four TDs), but was the No. 1 by Week 7 of last year (Pro Bowl) and Jacksonville’s DJ Chark, who had no touchdowns in ’18 and joined Sutton in the Pro Bowl in ‘19.

Kiz: Hey, I have a need — and love — for speed as much as any football freak enthralled with chunk plays and offensive fireworks. So I get the attraction to Hamler, who is not only straight-line fast, but elusive. By taking him with the 46th overall pick, the Broncos also told me: DaeSean Hamilton doesn’t scare any NFL defense. In two pro seasons, Hamilton has never produced more than 30 catches, 297 receiving yards or two touchdowns. For Hamler to be considered a wise pick, shouldn’t he exceed all those numbers as a rookie?

O’Halloran: Draft Weekend couldn’t have been a fun time for Hamilton. The special teams value of Tim Patrick should put him in the No. 4 spot to start camp behind Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Hamler. Predicting the numbers for Hamler? Let’s go with modest projections of 26 catches-500 yards-four touchdowns.

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Kiz: I have trouble figuring how Hamler is going to get many touches. So the question is: How do the Broncos get the most bang for the buck from him? On a team that could use a major boost on special teams, I see Hamler’s greatest potential as a returner. But how many times can he take a punt to the house? And how often does a kickoff sail through the end zone in Denver? In his roles as a receiver and returner, if Hamler scores more than three touchdowns as a rookie, I would be very pleasantly surprised.

O’Halloran: Kickoff returns are a rumor at Mile High and nearly obsolete at sea level, too. No player in the NFL last year had multiple punt return touchdowns and only two players (Pittsburgh’s Diontae Johnson and the Jets’ Braxton Berrios) averaged more than 10 yards per return. Translation — if Hamler makes an impact this year, it will have to be on offense. The issue is how to get him the football without taking away chances from Sutton, Jeudy, tight end Noah Fant and running backs Melvin Gordon/Phillip Lindsay. Broncos fans should hope new play-caller Pat Shurmur has a big bag of tricks. Yes, Hamler is a deep threat out of the slot, but using him on jet sweeps, bubble screens, etc., will also benefit him and the entire offense.