A former NFL wide receiver gave praise to DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans.
Former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne believes that Houston Texans star DeAndre Hopkins may be the best receiver in the game. Wayne attributes not the speed or his high football IQ of Hopkins — though they play a role — but his “strong hands,” for the reason he is so special.
During a recent segment on NFL Network, Wayne said this following as to why Hopkins is at the top of the best wide receivers in the league:
"“His hands, when it comes to catching that football, are so strong that even when he’s covered, he finds ways of coming down with the ball. He doesn’t even have to be open all the time.”"
Hopkins’ does indeed possess truly ridiculously sized hands. For reference, when Hopkins was measured at the 2013 NFL Combine, his hands were recorded to be 10 inches in length. The average hand size of a typical adult male clocks in at just under 7.5 inches.
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Wayne, a long-time Indianapolis Colts wide receiver — and current broadcaster for the NFL Network — showcased Hopkins’ hands during a segment on NFL Total Access.
He chose to use three examples from this past season, one during a Week 6 game against the Buffalo Bills and another from the Week 7 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the final clip, he shows how Hopkins uses his frame and hands to create separation against New York Jets corner Morris Claiborne.
In the first clip, Hopkins is lined up opposite of Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White. The clip shows Hopkins and White engaged in a battle for field position just two yards away from the end zone.
Hopkins uses his 6-1 frame to outmaneuver the smaller White, who stands at 5-11, as Hopkins leaps off his back foot into the air to secure the catch. Wayne credits Hopkins’ hand placement as the reason he was able to make a play on the ball and fall into the end zone for the score.
For the second clip, Wayne shows a play featuring Hopkins lining up opposite of Jaguars corner Jalen Ramsey. After a step off from the line of scrimmage, Hopkins engages Ramsey in a physical hand battle to get upfield. Hopkins is able to get Ramsey on his back foot. Ramsey disengages in an attempt to be able to lock up with the wideout downfield. This moment gives Hopkins just enough time to create separation.
The play results in a large gain of yards for the Texans, as Hopkins used his left hand to catch the ball away from Ramsey.
Wayne’s final example of Hopkins’ ability comes from a play from a late-season matchup against the New York Jets this past season. As previously mentioned, New York cornerback Claiborne is lined up opposite of Hopkins.
Hopkins runs a simple go route to the end zone, resulting in a one-on-one matchup against Claiborne. When Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson releases the ball, Hopkins is well covered. Claiborne is in front of Hopkins, and the play appears that it will either result in an interception or a defended pass. Using his body, and specifically his hands, Hopkins jumps just above Claiborne to snag the football away from the defender. Claiborne even has a hand on the ball, but thanks to Hopkins’ strong athletic ability, the ball stays secure in the receivers hands’ resulting in a score.
"“Whenever you talk about DeAndre Hopkins his hands are so strong that he just goes and catches everything with his hands, and not everyone can do that,” Wayne said."
Hopkins finished the 2018 season with 115 catches for 1,572 yards and 11 touchdowns. Notably, Hopkins also didn’t drop a single pass last season, a stat that media figures around the NFL took notice of when the season came to a close.
The debate still rages on if Hopkins is the best receiver in the NFL. Recently former Texans quarterback David Carr, who is now an NFL Network broadcaster, did not include Hopkins in his list of the top five receivers in the NFL. Wayne, however, may feel a bit differently about Hopkins’ place in the higher echelon of receiving talent.
"“He plays with a chip on his shoulder, he plays angry. I think that the reason being is because whenever people talk about wide receivers, they’re always talking Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, OBJ [Odell Beckham Jr.], and they always forget about him,” Wayne said near the end of the segment. “Every game he goes out there with an attitude to show and prove to everybody that he is one of the elite receivers, if not the elite.”"
The 27-year-old Hopkins is entering his seventh season in the NFL and is considered to be in the prime of his career. Which should be music to Texans fans ears, along with Watson, who will rely on the receiver to help lead this team back to the playoffs.