2021 NFL Draft Profile: Air Force QB Donald Hammond III

2021 NFL Draft Profile: Air Force QB Donald Hammond III

Air Force

2021 NFL Draft Profile: Air Force QB Donald Hammond III

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2021 NFL Draft Profile: Air Force QB Donald Hammond III


The last time we saw D.J. Hammond III in action, he was leading the Falcons to victory over Washington State in the 2019 Cheez-It Bowl.


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How draftable is Donald Hammond III?

Measurables

Height – 6′ and 1/8″
Weight – 228 pounds
40-yard time – 4.78 seconds
10-yard split time – 1.67 seconds
Arm length – 32 5/8″
Hand size – 9 3/4″
Wingspan – 75 1/2″
Vertical jump – 30″
Broad jump – 9′ 9″ (or 117″)
Shuttle time – 4.43 seconds
3-cone drill time – 7.33 seconds
Bench press – 11 reps

As we draw nearer to the NFL Draft at the end of this month, there will be content-o-plenty available for anyone who is looking to consume it. This is especially true when talking about the most polarizing position in all of sports: Quarterback. Whether it’s at practice, on game day or where we are focusing today, the NFL Draft, all eyes are on the quarterback.

Because it is critical to have a capable quarterback in the NFL, the position is scrutinized ad nauseum and prioritized by all. This is particularly true because the prized ‘face of the franchise’ is anything but a given, regardless of what round of the draft they are selected. Tom Brady, anyone?

That brings us to one of the more intriguing 2021 NFL Draft prospects, former Air Force quarterback Donald Hammond III. If he was to be drafted this spring, Hammond III would be the first triple option quarterback drafted to play quarterback in the NFL since, perhaps, Notre Dames own, Rick Mirer in 1993.

I’m not sure there is enough appreciation for the type of raw talent Hammond III brings to the table that he is legitimately considered by scouts and talent evaluators as a potential fit at his college position on an NFL roster. That is what stands out, even more than the fact that we are talking about a military academy athlete being drafted, or playing in “the league”.

Following a normal season, having not played in over a year would have drawn a lot more concerns than it probably will in 2021, courtesy of the pandemic. There were a litany of high profile players who opted not to play in 2020 and while Hammond III wasn’t necessarily an opt out, at the end of the day, like the rest of those who were not on the field, he will be evaluated and considered based on how a given team believes he can help their team.

In his only full season as a starter, 2019, Hammond III led the Falcons to an 11-2 record and finished the season ranked in the AP Top 25. And while he saw plenty of playing time in 2018, as well, even in his stellar 2019 season he didn’t start every game and still amassed 553 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 1,316 yards and another 13 scores through the air.

With a 177.9 passer efficiency rating and an average of nearly 12 yards per attempt, this guy was the definition of dual threat. Don’t get it twisted, though, we aren’t talking passing numbers solely inflated by the threat he posed on the ground. To the contrary, Hammond III’s ability to push the ball down the field added a rare dimension to the Air Force offense that really made it difficult for opposing defenses to key upon one facet of the Falcons offense or another.

DRAFT DAY

There have been some all-time great quarterbacks, from Navy in particular, who have been recently drafted, most notably Keenan Reynolds in 2016 and Malcolm Perry last year. So military academy players do hear their name called on draft day from time to time.

We have also other seen major college program quarterbacks, like national championship winner Eric Crouch from Nebraska, get a shot in the pros after operating out of the triple option. However, Reynolds, Perry and Crouch were not selected to play their college position. Donald Hammond III is a prospect at quarterback, and that’s what makes him so unique.

He was cerebral and athletic enough to run the triple option offense at a very high level, but those were complementary abilities to his arm talent and that truly allowed him to flourish in the Falcons’ unique scheme. So while being “an option quarterback” seem like damning words to an NFL aspiring quarterback, Hammond III is not of that conventional mold.

Despite arm strength that often would be showcased throwing 80 yard bombs in warm-ups, the lack of tape showcasing his abilities from more conventional pass plays will certainly play against his draft stock. He can only run the plays that were called, though, and he did so with precision.

While some of these factors will weigh against the prospects of guaranteeing he is one of the 259 men to hear their name called in this year’s NFL Draft, it is worth remembering the league is filled with teams who every year take flyers on athletes with promise. We see it all the time and, at quarterback in particular, if teams believe a player has the talent and ability that could be maximized through their culture and coaching, they will draft them.

Donald Hammond III might not be receiving the same “off the radar” buzz that a Trey Lance or a David Mills is getting, but you best believe there are teams doing their homework on the young man, as a prospect, project and player.

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