There’s an abundance of wide receivers in the 2013 NFL draft but as always, there are multiple questions with each of them. One of the one’s that has intrigued me the most while watching tape is DeAndre Hopkins, a six-foot-one, 200 pound product of Clemson University.
Hopkins is unlikely to be be the sexiest receiver on the draft board for some because he’s probably not going to light up the Combine with blazing speed but he has quality balance, burst, quick feet and proper pad level. The combination of these traits could very well make him one of the most productive receivers in this class if or when he learns the finest points of route-running. To his credit, he’s already on the way to becoming a better route-runner than some of his comrades due to flashes of discipline and ability to move defensive backs with his upper body.
An example of the above came against Boston College in the fifth week of his college football season when he administered a double-move on sophomore defensive back C.J. Jones. The move came after Hopkins quickly left the line of scrimmage and ran a vertical stem that saw his shoulders squared and his eyes on Jones despite the latter not fully focusing on him while playing zone coverage.
Typically when a young receiver runs a route, he gives it away with his eyes (e.g. Cal’s Keenan Allen), which is evident by the movement of his helmet. In this case, Hopkins doesn’t move his helmet left or right, instead, he keeps it still as he runs.
When he finally plants his outside foot into the ground, he leans to his left and cuts toward the middle of the field. At this point, the cornerback is looking to jump the route and break on the football, as he’s instructed to do in zone coverage. Simultaneously, Hopkins is looking straight ahead to make it appear as if he’s going to continue running forward but he doesn’t.
Instead, he plans his inside foot just outside the ACC logo and sinks his hips to ensure that he can explode forward with the power he builds up with his lower body.
With the Jones coming downhill, Hopkins is able to burst vertically and create a significant amount of separation prior to hauling in the pass from quarterback Tahj Boyd for the 36-yard touchdown.
This is a quality route by Hopkins, which could have been made even better if he would have looked back at the football while he was cutting inside. However, it worked out because of his quick cuts and route discipline. Both of these traits are very important for a receiver and much more vital to getting open in the NFL than sheer speed. They also are similar traits to the Atlanta Falcons’ Roddy White, who my Rotoworld colleague Josh Norris aptly compared Hopkins to.
Moreover, although the Clemson receiver has quick feet, there are questions about his hands and ability to track a contested football. He’s a quality pass-catcher when he has room to work with (e.g. against zone coverage), as he is aggressive in attacking the football whether it’s away from his body or coming to it, but when he’s forced to be physical, he becomes less aggressive in attacking the football.
This is a concern but not a significant one because he catches the ball well enough overall. Still, it’s one issue of his that I feel is being overlooked because of his outstanding feet, discipline and natural feel for the game.
All use of videos to take snapshots is done by DraftBreakdown.com.