Matt Waldman’s RSP Sample: Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins’ Pre-Draft (What I Learned)

Matt Waldman’s RSP shares its pre-draft scouting report of Houston Texans star receiver DeAndre Hopkins and the lessons learned from the 2013 receiver class. 

The 2013 receiver class of DeAndre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson, Tavon Austin, and Keenan Allen helped me improve the Rookie Scouting Portfolio process. Patterson and Austin were the superior athletes but less refined receivers than Hopkins and Allen. However, their scores were similar because of the criteria I was using to grade the position.

My criteria graded basic skills, presuming that players would earn enough coaching to become excellent technicians. This was the presumption I had in 2005 when I first constructed the checklist. As the years passed, it became increasingly clear that technical and conceptual development shouldn’t be counted on.

I began working on a new grading process in 2012 after having a much stronger grade for Marvin Jones than my peers while being far less impressed with Stephen Hill. I was beginning to realize that many analysts, myself included, were overvaluing height, speed, and athletic ability and undervaluing technical skill, acceleration, and stop-start agility.

I created a Depth of Talent Score that featured many of the skills from my primary checklist but I gave weighted values based on the depth of skill each player displayed rather than just a simplistic pass/fail for performing the skill on a basic level and awarding the same value of points.

I often spend 1-3 years privately examining my analysis through these new processes before making them a part of the publication. I wasn’t ready to unveil this scoring method in 2013, but I tested it on this receiver class.

It’s why in this scouting report with Hopkins, you’ll see reference to him being atop my board at one time during my rankings process. When I ran these players through the Depth of Talent Score, Hopkins and Allen were my top two receivers. When I used the existing basic skills checklist and my previous methodology, the athletic upside of Patterson and Austin gave them the edge.

The 2012, 2013, and 2014 classes led me to implement my Depth of Talent Score publicly in future Rookie Scouting Portfolios in 2015.  Once I did, the depth and detail of my scouting reports about receivers grew in quantity and quality.

With that behind-the-scenes story told, here’s my pre-draft report on Hopkins.

5. DeAndre Hopkins (6-1, 214)

Hopkins is one of the best technicians at his position in this draft class. He knows how to tell a story as a route runner with his hands, torso, and feet. This makes Hopkins a good short and intermediate receiver versus man and zone coverage.

He can use his hands to swipe a defender at the top of his stem and gains position with his turns. He uses a variety of releases with his feet to get inside and
outside versus tight man coverage. And Hopkins demonstrates good feet as a route runner and ball carrier, changing direction in tight space to work away from pursuit or break back to the pass. This is a particularly strong aspect with his routes. I like his ability to chatter his feet and drum his arms at the top of his stem and into his break.

Once the ball arrives, Hopkins has good hands and demonstrates that he can snatch the football thrown away from his body and at the first available window as the ball arrives. He does a good job catching passes high or low in tight coverage and with his back to the quarterback. Hopkins is also a sure-handed receiver with strong skill at adjusting to the football in the air.

He can make diving catches or high-point the ball in traffic. He finds openings in zone coverage and will vary his speed or position to maximize his position for the quarterback to deliver the ball. If he can develop stronger route skills against press coverage, he has the build and style tohave a career similar to Hakeem Nicks if he lands on a team with a good quarterback.

Like Nicks, Hopkindownfieldld speed is good enough but not great. He has to work on getting position ahead of the defender early enough to maintain a cushion from the sideline so his quarterback has more room to throw the fade. He has learn to punch and swipe against press coverage and avoid getting pushed to the boundary. I’d like to see better use of his hands during his releases. He tends to get by with his feet.

As a blocker, Hopkins tends to overrun his angle just enough to make it harder to sustain his blocks. However, he has the size and skill to develop this aspect of this game.

At one point, Hopkins was the top prospect on my board. Route techniques, skill in tight coverage, plays on 50/50 balls, and catches after contact with displays of flypaper hands will do that. However, his speed is a bit of a question mark and the upside of the players I ultimately ranked ahead of him spelled the difference.

If an NFL (for fantasy owner) “settles” for Hopkins, they are getting a player who would be a top-three receiver in most draft classes.

This analysis of Hopkins is only the beginning of what you’ll find every year in the Rookie Scouting Portfolio publication. For most in-depth analysis of skill players available, get the 2018  Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2018 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 each. You can pre-order the 2019 RSP beginning in December. 

Categories: 2013 NFL Draft, Matt Waldman, Players, RSP Publication, Wide ReceiverTags: , ,

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