DeAndre Hopkins shined in training camp this year after a very good rookie season last year. In fact, between last year and the reports out of camp about him, I even drafted him on one of my fantasy teams. Don't worry, I'm not starting him this week. Still, you have to like what he was able to do last year: started all 16 games, 52 receptions, 802 yards, and two TD's. He's probably going to take the next step up this year, and coming from that first step he was on last year, he's legit. By many accounts, Hopkins was the star in training camp this year and with Johnson getting a little older, you have to think last year's first-round pick is going to become an even bigger part of the offense. Perhaps the biggest thing holding him back is the QB play on the team with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Still, to have any idea what Fitzpatrick can do for a young WR, look no further than Kendall Wright last year. And I've read in numerous places that Fitzpatrick has had better chemistry on the field with Hopkins than anyone else... including Andre Johnson. There have been reports of crazy one-hand catches at practice this year, too... a lot of hype right now. Hopefully the 'Skins can lock that up early. He has the ability to leap very high and get the ball at its highest point and is said to model his game after Roddy White. He'll have confidence heading into this game and it's critical that the defense keep an eye on him and not get to focused on only Johnson and Foster.
Hopkins is an excellent route-runner. He was a lot more polished than your average rookie last year and has likely gotten even better. He's an explosive athlete who likes to play physical. Then there's the speed. We're talking 4.5 speed. In a straight line, there are few players that can keep up with him and his size (6'1", 218 lbs.) isn't bad either. Basically, he has all the skills you look for in a #1 WR and he's their #2. Hopkins has definitely shown to be worth his first round draft status.
Potential Against the Redskins
The secondary has been one of the bigger weaknesses on the Redskins roster for a while now, but individually, I like both Hall's and Amerson's chances against this guy. Neither CB is afraid to play physical and it'll certainly be needed. It's also a blessing having a guy like Ryan Clark behind them. It's interesting that Hall has said he won't be shadowing Johnson this game and that he and Amerson will stay on their respective sides of the field. That means both CB's will get their time trying to slow Hopkins. It'll also be interesting to see whether Haslett plays more man vs. zone, and whether he chooses to have the CB's press the WR's at the LoS, or if he has them respecting Hopkins' speed and starting a few yards back. Again, Hopkins is physical and fast, so there's no definite best strategy, but with the size that David Amerson possesses, the skills of Hall, and the reliability of Clark behind them, I think either CB could press Hopkins with some success. Obviously the defense will be focusing on Foster and Johnson first, which could leave Hopkins with some favorable looks. I have no doubt that the defense will respect Hopkins' ability and give him the proper attention he deserves. It'll be crazy fun watching Hall/Amerson go up against this guy and a particularly good test for second year CB Amerson to go against a talented, also in his second year WR.
In HS, Hopkins was a star PG for his school's basketball team. He was a scorer and during his Senior season, his team won the AAA State Championship and DeAndre was the Player of the Year. In fact, during DeAndre's Freshman year at Clemson, he not only led the team in receiving with 52 receptions for 637 yards and four TD's, Hopkins also played on the basketball team. His stats: 1.4 mpg, 0.1 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.1 bpg, 0.3 fpg, 0.3 topg, and 0 ppg. So clearly football became his "thing."
In his Junior year at Clemson, Hopkins really shined, especially when Sammy Watkins was suspended for two games. He was a Third-team All-American as well as First-team All-ACC. He is Clemson's career leader in receiving yards (3,020) and career TD receptions (27).
It's also interesting to note a couple parallels with the other Texans WR Andre Johnson. First off, one is Andre and the other is DeAndre. Weird... Also, the Texans have only drafted a grand total of two WR's in the first round in their franchise history, Johnson and Hopkins.
He also likes FIFA and is nicknamed "Nuk."
FIFA challengers?— Deandre Hopkins (@Nukdabomb) August 26, 2014