This is a player that isn't getting much attention, and until recently I had not paid him any mind myself. Then I found footage for every play from 4 or 5 games and watched. I am completely sold. Here is what I see:
- Extremely good balance when catching the ball and running after the catch.
- Fluid after the catch, rarely breaking stride or stopping momentum
- Very often makes the play. This means he gets into the endzone rather than being tackled short, gets passed the first down marker, keeps his feet in bounds on sideline catches; the guy makes the play rather than almost making the play.
- Strong hands, and can make the catches
- Natural catching the deep pass. This is due to skill and not speed. He knows how to catch deep passes, regardless of if he's covered or open.
- Fantastic route runner. Very very impressive IMO
- Game speed. He's not track fast (40 time) but in games he constantly outran the defenses.
- Gets away from defense by finding creases after the catch
- Great YAC ability and production
- Ability to catch in traffic (and consistency with doing so)
- Consistent production (TD in all but 1 games this year)
- Ridiculous production (>1400 yds 18TD)
- Trusted to throw the ball at times by team (mixed reviews)
- Understands where the defense is and is able to put himself into the right position accordingly (pre and post catch)
- Strong instincts in knowing where the ball will be placed
- Showed some ability to adjust to the ball
- Many wins in one-on-one battles against top competition (e.g. Xavier Rhodes and David Amerson)
- Lost concentration and dropped the ball at times (NC State game)
- Had some issues with the bigger CB David Amerson, although did burn him for a long TD as well as other receptions
- Could have issues securing low, tight passes when well covered by physical defenders
- Could be more physical with bigger receivers at the LOS
- YAC normally comes from outrunning defenses or taking great angles, not breaking tackles
- Mostly dangerous as an outside receiver and red-zone threat. Not terribly dangerous in the middle or on short outs
- Not good timed speed (40 yard dash at the combine - 4.57)
- Not the biggest receiver--although far from small, and plays very big
While Hopkins doesn't have amazing testing numbers and size, he's able to be extremely effective because of skill. His route running, recognition of defenses, strong hands and body control allow him to play a lot faster than his timed speed would indicate. While benefiting from having an NFL caliber QB (Boyd), he's also gone up against top-level NFL-caliber defenders and consistently defeated them, proving that he could do so at the pro level. He also has the instincts to catch deep passes, which often gets attributed to pure speed, but is actually about a lot more than that (see Ginn, Ted); you must anticipate where the ball would be, position your body, and make sure to get there prior to the defender. His ability to find creases in the defense and maintain his speed and balance after the catch make him extremely dangerous in the open field despite avg. speed and agility. What I love about him is that he's more often making the plays than almost making them.
Fit for SF?
He's a perfect fit for this team, in my opinion, as he adds the outside dimension that we currently don't have. Vernon Davis is able to go deep due to his speed, but the receivers don't seems to have that ability. He's a perfect compliment Crabtree as they do opposite things well, thus forcing the defense to worry about the middle, the short out route, and the outside. He's been productive, durable, and has the size to hold up in the NFL--all things that the niners seem to look for in their players. Will likely be drafted between 20 - 25, and very unlikely to get passed Houston in the 1st.
Player ComparisonI've seen him compared to Roddy While and Reggie Wayne. I could even see some Julio Jones the way he's able to fluently catch deep passes and continue up-field in stride, often getting to the endzone. From a size and timed speed standpoint he has similar stats to Hakeem Nicks.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTJjRlGOCjk - unfortunately there isn't any footage of him blocking, so I refrain from commenting on that.
YR- G--- Rec.--- Yards--- Avg.--- TD--- Rec./G--- Yards/G
JR - 13--- 82--- 1405--- 17.13--- 18--- 6.3--- 108.1
SO -14--- 71--- 961--- 13.54--- 5--- 5.1--- 68.6
FR - 12--- 51--- 626--- 12.27--- 4--- 4.3--- 52.2
[ Edited by RollinWith21n52 on Feb 28, 2013 at 4:15 PM ]