by Ray Kuhn
There will be plenty of time to digest how the trade of DeAndre Hopkins negatively impacts the Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson along with the fact that it appears to be devoid of logic by Bill O’Brien, but for now let’s focus on the receiver in his new home.
Hopkins is an elite wide receiver who won’t make it past the early second round in drafts, and likely is a late first round pick as his current ADP (through just eight drafts) is 11.5. Now that he calls Arizona home his value should remain unchanged as he joins an up and coming offense.
Not to say the Texans receiving corps is weak, but with future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and the up and coming Christian Kirk on the depth chart Hopkins is joining a talented wide receiver room. While we know that he is going to be the number one target, defenses won’t be able to focus on him and he has proven to be immune to his surroundings when it comes to success.
Other than his rookie season Hopkins has failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards once in his six seasons, and he gained 954 yards that year. With three seasons of greater than 100 receptions, including 104 catches for 1,165 yards and 7 TD last year, he is a complete receiver who has shown the ability to stay healthy as he has never played less than 15 games in a season.
While we can’t count on him to be a true downfield threat, he only had one reception greater than 40 yards last season, we are dealing with a receiver who has no problem putting up prolific scoring days (about five games per season of greater than 100 yards) while remaining consistent on a weekly basis. The intermediate part of Hopkins game is there, as last year he had 16 catches of greater than 20 yards after totals of 24 and 23 the two previous seasons.
Last season he had 35.3% of Houston’s air yards and there is no reason not to expect a similar total moving forward. With a 69.3% catch rate (along with just a 3.3% drop rate), we know that he the efficiency is there. As noted above, Hopkins is more of a value and red zone option at this point based on his lackluster average depth of target at 10.3 yards. He has a proven track record of success inside the 20, and there is no reason why that won’t continue with Kyler Murray.
Despite our optimism and confidence in Hopkins and his track record, we do need to note that he is downgrading in the quarterback department as he goes from Watson to Murray (at least initially). With Murray entering his sophomore season, the talented signal caller is primed to take the next step forward after passing for 3.722 yards and 20 TD last season.
There are going to be some initial questions about Hopkins on his new team, but his track record is such that we shouldn’t be concerned. With Murray and the Arizona offense looking to build on last season, he is entering a positive situation. Another positive is the fact that he is versatile as far positions go. It was close to 50/50 whether or not Hopkins lined up on the left (his stronger side production wise) or right, and while the preference was on the outside he is also capable out of the slot.
For that reason we can comfortably draft Hopkins as one of the elite wide receiver once again in 2020, even in his new home.