Purdue senior Brycen Hopkins put together a strong performance against Nebraska Saturday and continues to look like one of the top tight ends in the 2020 NFL Draft.
His production has been impressive this year, and he’s squarely in the mix for Mackey Award consideration. Purdue hasn’t had the best season, but his 42-538-3 receiving line on the season has been one of the few bright spots on offense.
Hopkins possesses the traits to potentially stretch the field as a move tight end at the next level.
He displays really impressive explosion off of the snap and climbs vertical in a hurry. Hopkins can dip the shoulder to gain a release off the line and is a fluid athlete that is smooth when he’s changing directions.
Hopkins has the speed to get separation one-on-one vs. linebackers going vertical, and his speed in and out of his breaks allows him to create quick throwing windows for his signal-caller.
He runs a handful of routes and he provides a viable security blanket in the underneath on hitches and flat outs. Hopkins has quickness after the catch and runs his feet through initial contact, generally gaining an extra yard or two out of pure effort.
Hopkins displays tremendous ball skills and is strong at the catch point. He possesses the leaping ability to climb the ladder and high-point the ball in the vertical passing game, and he made a game-changing play doing so on a 3rd down corner route late in the 4th quarter against Nebraska.
As you can see in the clip below, big plays are a part of his skill set.
Where Hopkins needs to continue to improve is as a blocker.
He has the speed to quickly get to his assignment when asked to pull, and he has a quick punch. Hopkins can generally get his hands inside and sustain them, but he has questionable core strength and struggles to effectively absorb contact.
Hopkins flashes solid ability as a down blocker and has powerful finishes one-on-one, but he has trouble consistently winning at the point-of-attack vs. stronger defenders.
He has a questionable anchor in pass protection, although he displays adequate enough ability to contribute in this area at the next level.
Hopkins has the potential to be one of the top tight ends in the 2020 NFL Draft class, and his performance this season tops most of the other prospects in the class.
Assuming he participates in the Senior Bowl, Hopkins could elevate himself into legitimate first round contention if he holds up in one-on-one blocking drills.