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DeAndre Hopkins to Texans: How Does Wide Receiver Fit with Houston?

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 29: DeAndre Hopkins #6 of the Clemson Tigers catches a pass while dragging his foot near the sideline against the Boston College Eagles during the game on September 29, 2012 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Dan TylickiAnalyst IApril 25, 2013

The Houston Texans needed a wide receiver alongside Andre Johnson. More importantly, they needed a playmaker who can turn the offense into a dynamic unit, perhaps finding Johnson's eventual replacement.

That's precisely what the Texans did. With the 27th pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Texans snagged DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson. The highly productive receiver can be a Day 1 starter and turn the Texans' offense into a force.

What else does Hopkins bring to the Texans beyond huge production at Clemson?

 

Role and roster fit

Hopkins comes to the Texans in a much better situation than many late first-round picks. He may end up being a starter on Day 1 alongside Andre Johnson.

In training camp, Hopkins will have to beat out DeVier Posey, Keshawn Martin and Lester Jean for the second starting wideout role. That's not going to be a particularly tough task, as all three combine for well under 500 career receiving yards.

As productive as Hopkins was at Clemson, he will not have to worry about duplicating those numbers in Houston. Andre Johnson is still the No. 1 receiver.

Hopkins' job will be twofold.

First, he needs to be the player that can get open and make plays if Andre Johnson is double-teamed, which he still could be. Second, he has to become good enough to get that second cornerback or safety on him rather than Johnson.

In a one-on-one matchup, Johnson becomes even more dangerous, and that could allow for more passing yards for both of them. If he can relieve Owen Daniels on shorter routes, that will be beneficial as well.

In short, Hopkins is going to be used how the Texans would have liked to use Kevin Walter, and how they did use him in 2008.

If Hopkins can hit 1,000 yards, that would be amazing for the Texans. But more importantly, if Johnson has just under 100 receptions, then that's proof of Hopkins' value; Johnson can't be among the league leaders in receptions much longer, not at his age.

 

Early Projections

Hopkins is now one of the players I'm most excited to watch heading into 2013 given the situation he finds himself in.

Hopkins is going to see the majority of snaps on the field, with one of the three backup wide receivers serving as his backup on snaps here and there. He faced premier cornerbacks in college and will be facing No. 2 corners at the pro level, which could be good news for him.

As someone who's a route runner and possession receiver, he should be targeted early and often. If he's used properly, then Andre Johnson's 110 receptions will be a thing of the past without knocking down the yards all that much.

In 2008, Kevin Walter had 60 receptions for 899 yards and eight touchdowns for the Texans, and those numbers are very similar to what I expect from Hopkins. He's a guy who can get open and get a pass four to five times a game at least.

Starting all 16 games should not be an issue at all for Hopkins, and if those 800 yards are the difference between a Super Bowl and an early playoff exit, then the pick was entirely worth it for the Texans.

I gave the Hopkins selection an A, and there's a reason for that: He will contribute immediately, relieve Johnson of being double-teamed all the time and will end up making Houston's offense that much more dynamic.

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