Through 28 career games, it has not been all peaches and cream for DaeSean Hamilton. He has struggled with drops, has been underutilized and struggled with providing consistent production.

But Sunday was a different story. Hamilton was the Broncos’ leading receiver with six receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown, en route to the best game of his young NFL career.

“It was not necessarily waiting, but hoping it was going to happen, staying true to the process and being ready,” said Hamilton following the win.

After being selected in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Penn State, Hamilton had hopes of becoming the No. 3 receiver on the depth chart his rookie year, behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. After some healthy competition for the third receiver spot with Courtland Sutton, Hamilton was tabbed as Denver’s fourth receiver to begin 2018.

Following a rookie year where Hamilton showed some promise, catching 30 passes for 243 yards and two scores, his second NFL season has not gone as well he hoped. Entering Sunday’s game against Detroit, Hamilton had a paltry 17 receptions for 167 yards and no touchdowns, to go along with a couple of wide-open drops that would have resulted in big plays; one in the season opener at Oakland and another in Drew Lock‘s debut at home vs. the Chargers.

However, facing the Lions, Hamilton looked the part of a legitimate No. 2 option in the passing game. Setting a career-high in receiving yards and scoring his first touchdown of the season is a huge deal for a guy who has underperformed all year. If Hamilton can continue this type of play, it will not only be a huge compliment to Sutton, but Denver can avoid targeting a wide receiver early in the 2020 NFL Draft, too. Sutton, Hamilton, Noah Fant and a healthy Tim Patrick have the makings of a few dynamic options for Lock in the passing game.

And it is no surprise that since Lock has taken over at quarterback, Hamilton has received more looks. He was targeted a season-high nine times in the loss last week at Kansas City and caught all six of his targets against the Lions. Following Sunday’s win, Lock called Hamilton “super-duper intelligent.” The rookie QB added, “Just being able to have the spatial awareness he does, it helps us out, especially in our type of offense. He had a fantastic game today.”

“Drew’s got the confidence in him. He’s done a good job catching the ball of late,” said Vic Fangio.

The Broncos have envisioned Hamilton becoming a viable third down option since they drafted him. With his nifty footwork and ability to quickly get in and out of his breaks, Hamilton unquestionably has the capability of being a justifiable threat on third down.

“It’s like getting a monkey off your back, but at the same time, I know I’ve always been able to do stuff like this,” said Hamilton following the game. “Obviously, things have been up and down this year.”

Moving forward, the Broncos’ will need to see more ups than downs from the second-year wideout. He has one final chance to shine this year, against Oakland, before an offseason which could be career-defining.