DeAndre Hopkins has already caught the attention of Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.
The first round pick from Clemson came to Houston with an attitude and determination, both things which have helped him stand out in rookie camp and the current OTAs.
"He's special," Kubiak said in a story on NFL.com. "Ball skills are extremely special. Very long, long arms. Big hands. You saw the catch he made out here today. He's going to help us early, and we know that, and that's why we brought him here."
Those special qualities could help Hopkins secure the other starting receiver slot across the line from Andre Johnson.
In the past two seasons, the Texans have lost Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter to free agency. One of the strengths of the team had become suspect. And with Johnson’s health concerns, finding a solid second pass catcher was paramount in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Hopkins as a fantasy player could be interesting. He was ranked as the fifth overall prospect at his position by cbssportsline.com prior to the draft. Clemson, who boasted worlds of talent on offense, used Hopkins to spread the field and on deep routes. It will be interesting to see if Kubiak uses the rookie in the same capacity with Johnson and quarterback Matt Schaub.
At 6’1” and 214 pounds, Hopkins is certainly big enough to get separation from opposing defensive backs and can make the tough catch over shorter defenders.
It was said in the NFL.com story that the play of Hopkins, in the fact he was catching everything thrown his way was making Kubiak feel ‘giddy.”
Practice is one thing, real playing time and game time is another thing. If he can produce in the same capacity, then the Texans have filled a major void in their offense.
CBS Sports' pre-draft reports described Hopkins having “strong hands with above average body control and focus to high point and attack the ball in the air. Tracks the deep ball and shows a second gear to separate at the final moment and finish. Very good short-area burst in his cuts with some beautiful stop-and-go moves and route acceleration to create room.”
While those things will help him adjust to playing the upstart Indianapolis Colts twice this season and then the Jaguars and Titans, who both have suspect defenses, there are things he will have to work on to be a solid competitor.
CBS Sports notes that Hopkins "will attempt to corral the catch at times instead of using his palms. Lacks track speed and won't be able to leave NFL cornerbacks in his dust on foot speed alone. Showed steady progression each year, but still improving his consistency and is not yet a finished product."
Hopkins reminds me of a young Reggie Wayne, a player who was second fiddle to Marvin Harrison before he broke out as one of the best to play the game. If Hopkins is half as good as Wayne has been over his career, then the Texans got a steal with this selection and Hopkins can be a great third receiver selection in fantasy league play.