At times overshadowed by teammate Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins capped a productive three-year run at Clemson with a school-record 18 receiving touchdowns—good for second in the nation. Hopkins also led the ACC with 1,405 receiving yards and scored in the last 12 games of his Tigers career. He left the school as the career leader in receiving yards, touchdown receptions, and 100-yard games.
Hopkins is widely considered the wide receiver most ready to contribute immediately at the NFL level. He has decent size, but what sets him apart is his ability to set up and run routes—gaining separation despite not having elite speed. Hopkins is also “quarterback-friendly” in that he comes back to the ball and successfully competes for the ball in traffic. The only knock pinned to Hopkins’ scouting report is a lack of elite speed, though his route-running savvy allowed him to get separation despite not having sub-4.4 wheels. He could also stand to get stronger so as to better handle press coverage, and he’s prone to the occasional drop—but those charges could be levied against every receiver entering the NFL this year.
Hopkins’ sluggish 40 time earned him frequent comparisons to Anquan Boldin, which isn’t a bad neighborhood for a receiver prospect. His focus, body control, reliability and competitive nature reminds some of Reggie Wayne, though most scouts set Hopkins’ ceiling at a quality WR2 level rather than a go-to guy. The NFL is chock full of non-burners with good size who have carved out a solid career as a wingman; feel free to lump Hopkins into that same pile.
And if you’re going to be a WR2, what better place to go than Houston—where the Texans have unsuccessfully tried to find a running mate for Andre Johnson for, well, forever. Little stands between Hopkins and a starting job, and like at Clemson he won’t have to deal with the same double teams his partner across the field will face. It’s a great opportunity for Hopkins, who is without question the most talented player the Texans have paired with AJ, though dynasty leaguers shouldn’t project him to take over Johnson’s numbers at some point down the road. Here is where the Boldin comparison rings especially true—and again, if that is to be Hopkins’ upside you won’t hear many complaints coming out of Houston.