Have you heard of these quick name-association games that people play? Where one person says a word and you say the first word that pops into your head? It is supposed to be some Freudian-slip-esque amateur psychological tell. As someone pursuing their masters degree in psychology, I can assure you this is largely bollocks.
But if you were to say the word “Clemson” to a college football fan, the expected response would probably be a quick “Sammy Watkins!”, the Tigers’ star sophomore receiver. At least this is how it would have been heading into the 2012 season before Watkins was suspended and DeAndre Hopkins emerged.
Hopkins has spent this entire season making people like myself say “Sammy Watkins who?”
Hopkins is a 6’1″, 200 pound junior wide receiver with long arms, big hands, and surprising range for not being a burner. He won’t take the top off a defense with his speed, but he works his way open and can shield with his body.
His game screams ‘Roddy White’ to me. Like Hopkins, White wasn’t the biggest or fastest receiver coming out. He made his money in the mid-range game using his savvy route running and physicality to get open on his second move. Hopkins attacks the ball in the air and rarely loses concentration when tracking the pass.
Some would say that a 6′ receiver with 4.5 speed has limited upside, but I disagree. There are plenty of receivers with similar measurables that have played at a high level in recent years. Hopkins I think presents himself as an excellent option late in the first round to a team with an established passing game looking for a quick contributor.
It really is amazing how good Hopkins has been this season and how he and senior Terrence Williams are making a lot of people forget about the hyped-up underclassmen like Justin Hunter and to a lesser extent, Keenan Allen.
I firmly believe Hopkins can be an immediate contributor early on in his career. I love his aggressiveness in getting the ball and his big hands make the ball look tiny. If the Cincinnati Bengals are reading this (yeah, right), Hopkins would be quite the compliment to AJ Green. Green draws double teams, and Hopkins can double-move his way out of single coverage consistently.