Re: 1st Round- DeAndre Hopkins WR Texans
When Hopkins makes a play in front of his home crowd, you’ll hear the throng cheer “Nuuuk”. Though his childhood nickname came from a special brand of baby pacifier he required because he bit through most others, the confident receiver will tell you he’s added another reason for that moniker – he feels almost nuclear in his explosion on the field. And after a stand-out junior season, which capped an overall productive three-year career at Clemson, NFL scouts agree he’s got a chance to be a significant contributor on Sundays.
The nephew of the late Terry Smith, who caught 162 passes for Clemson from 1990-1993, was yet another top South Carolina recruit the Tigers kept in-state despite great interest from major programs across the country. Hopkins earned the team’s Rookie of the Year award in 2010, starting eight of 12 games played and leading the team with 52 catches (covering 637 yards and four touchdowns) – and he joined the Clemson basketball team as a reserve after the season, one year after leading his high school team to a state title. He played in every game, starting 11, as a sophomore in 2011, being somewhat overlooked despite nearly reaching 1,000 receiving yards (978 on 72 catches, also five touchdowns) because of the electric play of freshman Sammy Watkins. Hopkins suffered a mild concussion in a car accident on his way to go to the team’s disappointing 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia, but he still managed a school bowl-record 10 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Hopkins was good over his first two seasons in Death Valley, but in 2012, he was great, finishing with a single-season school record 1,405 receiving yards. Hopkins also set a new ACC-mark with 18 receiving scores, adding a team-best 82 catches. Despite his quarterback deciding to return for his senior season, Hopkins decided to depart after his record-breaking junior season, leaving with a school record for 100-yard receiving games (12).
Presents good height and length for an outside receiver, also has some lower-body strength for explosion off the line of scrimmage and in his cuts. Solid route-runner used in the short, intermediate, and deep games, who has flexibility to avoid corners in zone and the quick feet to separate on hitches, comebacks, and other cuts. Does a nice job creating separation and deceiving defensive backs with head fakes and quick moves. Will threaten the top of defenses with NFL-quality straight-line speed. Possesses strong hands in traffic, not afraid of contact downfield and can separate at the last second with an arm extension. Agile enough to quickly avoid oncoming defenders after the catch yet remain balanced to head downfield for the big gain. Does not go down without a fight, can run through arm tackle attempts from cornerbacks. Snatches throws with his hands, even those within his frame. Concentrates on the ball throughout difficult catches and extends his long arms to make a big radius. Sells double-moves well with a head fake and body lean. Very good body control to contort his body on catches and pluck the ball out of the air, keep one foot in-bounds on the sideline. Effective run blocker, usually reaches his target and gets his hands up, uses correct blocking angle to sustain; also shows some nastiness at times, capable of putting his man to the ground. Consistently productive over his time at Clemson, improving his stats each season
Only average size for a starting outside receiver and has room to add bulk to his frame. Occasionally loses track of the ball on easy catches when trying to make a move too early. Must prove his ability to use his hands to beat press coverage from NFL veterans off the line. Dances around defenders and run backwards after short catches at times, losing his balance or some yardage, instead of heading upfield. Will need to be more consistently physical in the blocking game at the next level.
Sammy Watkins got a lot of headlines as a true freshman in 2011 because of his exceptional skills, but Clemson’s “other” receiver, Hopkins, produced consistently using his NFL body and hands. “Nuke” excited the Death Valley crowds with his big plays as a sophomore (978 yards, five touchdowns), but he took his game to the next level this past season, emerging as Clemson’s No. 1 weapon for Tajh Boyd. Hopkins re-wrote the Clemson receiving record books in 2012 with 18 receiving touchdowns and to put that in perspective the No. 2 player in the ACC in touchdown grabs was NC State’s Bryan Underwood with 10. Hopkins does a nice job setting up his routes to keep defenders off balance and attack the ball at its highest point – if the ball is thrown in Hopkins area, he goes and gets it. He has fluid body control and the focus to be a reliable starting WR option in the NFL. Should be in the conversation to be one of the first receivers drafted, probably in the late first round range.
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