Posted by Bob Harris
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - 11:07pm
Hopkins is one of the best offensive players in the game. He was a first-team Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro last year, and he led the NFL with 13 touchdowns, catching 96 passes for 1,378 yards after signing an $81 million contract prior to the season. Much like Andre Johnson—his predecessor in Houston—Hopkins has produced at a high level despite dealing with subpar quarterback play for nearly his entire time in Houston. We say nearly, because the exception was last season's seven-game stretch with Deshaun Watson, who had an epic rookie campaign before he injured his knee.
While Hopkins has consistently played better than we all expected, there's reason to believe we haven't seen his ceiling. For the most part, Hopkins has relied on precise route-running, amazing hands and body control. He's also a physically tough and imposing player. As Bleacher Report put it, "He's the type of receiver that demands the ball even when he's covered." Think about his potential over a full season with Watson, who was on pace for 43 touchdown passes before he got hurt.
The Texans' offensive line remains a bit suspect and one could certainly worry that Watson can't match his amazing rookie performances.
2018 Bottom Line
Yes. I was reaching a bit for that downside. Assuming the belief that Watson's rehab has him on track to open the season as the starter is correct, Hopkins is pushing into a tier created—and, up to this point, manned exclusively by—Antonio Brown. Hopkins is still the No. 2 behind Brown, but the gap is closing.