Draft 2020 – Pick #5: Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

Player Bio
Brycen’s father, Brad, was a Pro Bowl offensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans. The younger Hopkins has proved himself a receiving threat who will interest pro scouts. He did not start playing football until he reached high school in Nashville but his genes and work ethic helped him earn second-team all-state honors as a senior. As a redshirt freshman for the Boilermakers, Hopkins played in 11 games with one start, scoring four touchdowns (10 receptions, 183 yards, 18.3 average). While he did not start any contests in 2017, his production increased (25 receptions, 349 yards, 14.0 average, three touchdowns). Hopkins became a major threat for Purdue in 2018, catching 34 passes for 583 yards (17.1 per) and two scores in 13 games (four starts). He took another step in 2019, garnering first-team Associated Press All-American, Big Ten Tight End of the Year, and first-team all-conference honors with 61 receptions for 830 yards (13.6 per) and seven touchdowns in 12 games (11 starts).

Analysis
Draft Projection
Rounds 4-5
Overview

Flex tight end with enough route acumen and separation quickness to open throwing windows, but modest ball skills and below-average hands can turn potential completions into drops. Hopkins’ issue with catch consistency has been ongoing and is unlikely to change as a pro. While the athletic talent looks good in space, there was a noticeable drop in production and opportunities when matched against man-cover talent. Hopkins could be viewed as a one-dimensional slot tight end with Day 3 draft potential, but his issues as a pass-catcher could limit his long-term prospects.

Strengths
  • Has athletic traits to work with
  • Dashes out with good quickness and forward lean into routes
  • Natural and smooth getting in and out of the top of his route
  • Quick to search for football after climbing past coverage in the seam
  • Above-average feel for soft spots in zone
  • Possesses route-running and play speed to open a throwing window
  • Plays with adequate toughness
  • Willing to take punishment working the middle
  • Accelerates into collision with bigger bodies on wham blocks
Weaknesses
  • Schemed into several wide-open catches
  • Must improve play strength
  • Had issues ungluing from physical catch-man coverage
  • Troubling drop rate as pass-catcher
  • Hands are stiff and technique needs work
  • Labors to make ball adjustments to off-target throws
  • Poor pad level and hand usage at point of attack
  • Frenetic pace and body control hinder consistency as move blocker

(Lance Zierlein – NFL.COM)

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