The NFL Network does a Top 100 player list every year. This list is voted upon by current NFL players. Names are released 10 at a time, every Wednesday evening on NFL Network. This week we saw Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins come in at number 19. D-Hop ranked third in catches and yards in 2015. He finished the season with 111 receptions, 1,521 yds., and 11 touchdowns. Hopkins trailed only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones in catches and yards.
Everybody knows about Odell Beckham’s amazing catch, but D-Hop mad a similarly impressive grab even before that. In a 2014 game vs the Giants, Hopkins made a left-handed grab while falling backwards down the middle of the field. It was every bit as impressive as Beckham’s, except for the fact that the play was called back. Anyhow, the point is that DeAndre Hopkins has been making exceptional catches since he entered the league in 2013.
“Nuk” exploded onto the scene in 2015. He carried Houston on his back while catching passes from four different quarterbacks. Hopkins absolutely proved that he is an elite pass catcher in this league. Although he isn’t especially fast by receiver standards, he has an uncanny knack for getting open and outdueling defenders for the ball.
How good can Deandre Hopkins be? I think the sky is the limit. Hopkins is entering just his fourth year in the league. What we know now, is that he is a game-changer. One just has to watch the highlights to see that Hopkins has certain skills that separate him from the average NFL wide receiver. As a Texans fan who watched every game last season, there was always one constant. Whenever the ball went Hopkins’ way, you could almost always count on him coming down with it.
This coming season should be a refreshing change for Hopkins. He had a lot put on his shoulders in 2015. Houston’s other receivers, Nate Washington, Cecil Shorts, Keith Mumphery, and Jaelen Strong, simply couldn’t be counted on to come up with big catches. They were inconsistent and there were issues with drops. Couple that with no running came and zero production from tight ends, and Hopkins was literally the only good option.
The Texans have done a lot to try and alleviate some of that pressure. They drafted Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. They signed Lamar Miller to carry the load out of the backfield. But perhaps most importantly, they signed Brock Osweiler, who is expected to provide stability at quarterback. Hopkins expressed his contentment on Twitter shortly after the draft.
Ain’t no more double teams baby!
— Deandre Hopkins (@Nukdabomb) April 30, 2016
My hope is that Hopkins won’t have the same lofty statistics as he did a year ago. I say that not because I don’t think he’s capable, but because I hope the wealth will be spread around. D-Hop will still be a focal point of the offense, but hopefully the addition of these other weapons will allow Houston to open things up a bit. If they once again have to rely so heavily on Hopkins, that means things aren’t going well.
Header image based on “Sideline views before the Rams vs. Texans game 13 October 2013” by Karen (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)