Over the last few years, the New England Patriots have seen considerable turnover at the wide receiver position. To put it into numbers, only four of ten wideouts currently under contract were with the team at this point last year. Despite having plenty of players at the position, this uncertainty behind projected starters Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan might lead the Patriots to invest a draft pick in a receiver.
Among the wideouts the Patriots have had contact with during the pre-draft process is Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton. Coming off a productive four-year college career during which he averaged 53.5 receptions, 710.5 receiving yards and 4.5 touchdowns per season, the 6'1, 200 lbs pass catcher is quickly rising up draft boards and could even hear his name called as early as the second day of the event.
Hamilton, however, is not concerned about what the projections are saying. In an interview with Pats Pulpit, the 23-year old stated that he is trying to block the pre-draft chatter out as well as he could: “I do my best, obviously, to not pay any attention to it,” Penn State's all-time leader in career receptions said. “All I really have now is the draft to worry about and that’s all that people really care about this time.”
Among those people is a Patriots team that has already taken a close look at the wide receiver prospect in the past: Position coach Chad O'Shea had a private meeting with Hamilton during his pro day in March. While it remains to be seen if the team actually invests one of its selections to bolster an already deep receiver group, the thought of joining New England appears to be an intriguing one for Hamilton.
“That would be amazing, obviously,” said Hamilton when asked about his thoughts on potentially catching passes from Tom Brady at the next level. “Tom Brady is a legendary quarterback, he’s been legendary throughout his entire career. I grew up watching him and he's one of the few guys in the NFL that whoever is on the team with him, whoever he’s throwing the ball to, he’s getting them better and putting them in a position to succeed.”
“Getting an opportunity like that would be exciting and would be a blessing in itself,” continued the draft-hopeful. “Being able to learn from him and learn from other guys on that team and being part of the Patriots organization... that would be really exciting.” Hamilton's approach to possibly joining a team led by a Hall of Fame head coach and Hall of Fame quarterback would therefore be a simple one: be open to learning and criticism.
“At that point you really just show that you can listen rather than say anything because you’ve got guys that have been through it all,” Hamilton said during our interview. “You just want to come in like a sponge. You learn a lot of things from those established quarterbacks and just try to take it all in and implement it into your game no matter what it is they’re teaching you. You just take that and try to grow yourself as an overall football player.”
The growth Hamilton already experienced as a player is a key factor in him being on his way to become a mid-round selection later this month: After redshirting during his freshman year because of a wrist injury, the Virginia native quickly established himself as an important player within Penn State's offense – culminating in him leading the team in receiving yardage (857) and touchdown receptions (9) during his 2017 senior campaign.
It is therefore no surprise that plenty of teams have drawn an interest in him – and Hamilton himself believes that he would be a quality addition to whichever team brings him in: “Teams will know what they’ll be getting out of me from the minute I’m the facility,” he said. “I’ll bring value immediately – special teams, I’m ready to contribute and compete for a spot on the 53-man roster.”
And even though he sees himself as one of the best receivers in this draft class, Hamilton's attitude and worth ethic show that he is intent on growing as a player: “I’ll be one of the hardest workers on the team,” he said during our chat. “And really be one of the hardest workers in the NFL because that’s really what got me to this point now – and I won’t change that whatsoever.”
While his personal approach to football will not change at the next level, he very well will have to be able to adapt to new surroundings – not just geographically but also in terms of scheme. The latter, however, won't be a first for Hamilton: During his five years at Penn State, three different offensive coordinators coached him, from ex-Patriots coordinator Bill O'Brien to John Donovan to Joe Moorhead.
Hamilton, however, does not think the lack of continuity he experienced at the collegiate level will hurt him – quite the opposite actually: “Seeing the different types of offenses, seeing different types of systems and concepts, and really just absorbing all of those very well would give me a leg up on other guys that are coming into the league and haven’t been having this complex system or the multiple systems that I’ve been playing in over the course of my college career.”
Once again, Hamilton sees the mental aspect of the game as a key component when it comes to growing as a football player: “Learning is basically at the basis of it,” he said when asked about experiencing different offensive systems in college. “You know all the steps, know what your assignment is, put your brains to the test and just challenge yourself to really be able to go out there and perform.”
Over the last four years, Hamilton has been able to do just that – and there is any indication this will change at the next level. Maybe even in New England.