As rookie minicamps wrapped up over the weekend and as the OTA season looms, we enter a part of the NFL calendar when cutting through the thick and filthy lies becomes a daunting task. Remember, this is a time of the year when infamous busts like Tim Couch and Ryan Leaf once shined. Never again, right?
Well, sort of, and sometimes. Sure, catches in October during a real football game with real competition and real consequences if the catch isn’t made are more difficult. We all know this, and can acknowledge it readily. But at some point, supreme athletic skill is, well, supreme athletic skill regardless of the circumstances, or the date.
Courtesy of DeAndre Hopkins, I think we witnessed one of those times over the weekend. And oh, it was beautiful, and it made many a fantasy fiend soil undergarments.
According to me, Hopkins could quickly become the highest producing rookie wide receiver next fall. You’ll make a case for Tavon Austin, and you might not be wrong. But he doesn’t have the support of some guy named Andre Johnson, and the guy passing him the ball is far more difficult to trust than Matt Schaub. You’ll make a case for Robert Woods too, and he may mount an even greater challenge to Hopkins than Austin before falling short because his quarterback situation is again quite messy.
So we return to Hopkins, who had 1,405 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns during his final year at Clemson. He has the quicks, and with both the support of Johnson and Owen Daniels, he should see plenty of shiny green field in front of him during his rookie year.
Let’s check in with our boy then, as he could easily become the subject of my irrational May infatuation. Shower him with all your praise, Nick Scurfield:
DeAndre Hopkins looked every bit like a first-round draft pick. The Clemson wide receiver caught seemingly everything thrown his way, with at least one highlight-reel one-handed grab on all three days of practice. That included Sunday, when he caught a lofted deep ball from Case Keenum down the left sideline with his left hand while his right arm was being held by a defensive back who was on his back as Hopkins made the catch falling to the ground.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak had consistently high praise for Hopkins, the No. 27 overall pick in the 2013 draft. “He’s special,” Kubiak said Sunday. “Ball skills are extremely special. Very long; long arms. Big hands; you saw the catch he made out here today. He’s going to help us early, and we know that, and that’s why we brought him here.”
Again, I know it’s a practice in May with shorts and lemonade on the sidelines and such. But we’re also talking about a drifting and wayward pass from Case Keenum — undrafted roster clinger Case Keenum — that Hopkins caught with one hand while falling, and while having his other hand held by a defensive back.
That’s a serious boss move.