It’s time for another Houston Texans player profile here at Toro Times, something you can expect a lot of in the lead up to preseason football next month and into the regular season.
Earlier this week Graham previewed Matt Schaub, so today we’ll stick to the offense, and take a look at a guy who could quite possibly revolutionize the Texans passing game even more so than Andre Johnson has done in the past ten years: first round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins.
Just to cover the basics in case anyone out there isn’t aware, Hopkins was drafted by the Texans earlier in April with the 27th pick, coming all the way from Clemson to join Johnson, DeVier Posey and Owen Daniels in Houston’s passing game. Really, Johnson had a big say in the drafting of Hopkins – he spoke up when the Texans need a wide receiver the most, and has taken Hopkins under his wing ever since he landed in Battle Red.
So far Hopkins has been the golden boy of this years draft, not that anyone expected differently. He’s been listed as one of the most impressive rookies during organized team activities back in May, and if you search his name enough, you’ll see a lot of people say that he’s caught everything thrown his way.
To me though, the drafting of Hopkins has done a lot more than just add an extra target for Schaub to try and hit. What Hopkins has added is another whole level of excitement to the receiving game, one that had to happen this year if the Texans are ever going to make a push for that exclusive Super Bowl spot.
In the months and months of pre-draft discussions, Hopkins was one of the guys I watched closely, because everyone knew he was right next to (if not in) Tavon Austin’s talent class. Scouting reports noted his height (6’1) and a physical play style that can trip up defenders in zone coverage. That, and a precise route running ability in the short and deep areas made him a valuable asset to a team like Houston who were beginning to rely on a 31-year old Andre Johnson just a little too much.
Luckily that’s the beauty of drafting Hopkins, he can fit right in. Gary Kubiak has made no secret of the fact that Hopkins will start in Week 1 against the Chargers, and even though he may only average a couple of catches, it’s all about getting him up to speed with the Texans playbook early, and familiar with how defenders are likely to play him all season long.
Speaking of defenders, expect to see single coverage early on Hopkins, when teams are still trying to figure him out. He had 1,405 yards last season with Clemson and 18 touchdowns, so it’s likely defenders will try and jam Hopkins up, even though he’s shown a lot of strength during his college days at the line of scrimmage.
As the season goes on, depending if Hopkins reaches full beast mode or not, we should see more double coverage and safety help. This is what the Texans want though, because it could leave guys like Posey or Johnson open on the other side.
There’s still a lot of unknown about Hopkins though. We know he does have kick returning abilities, despite staying away from it entirely in 2012 with Clemson. Johnson himself said two months ago that Hopkins also had a few minor issues understanding aspects of the playbook, but was reportedly coming to speed with the whole thing.
I guess we’ll see if Hopkins has a Randy Moss circa 1998 kind of year with the Texans, or one where he gradually eases himself into the “main guy” role with Johnson still taking most of the catches. If anything, preseason should give him some pretty good experience and time to fit in.
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