DeAndre Hopkins Channels His Inner Jerry Rice for Record-Setting Pace

DeAndre Hopkins Channels His Inner Jerry Rice for Record-Setting Pace

deandre hopkins channels hiss inner jerry rice 2015 nfl imagesWho are the best wide receivers in the NFL right now? The first names that come to mind for most of you are probably Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr, Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, maybe still Calvin Johnson.

Here’s a fun fact: while these five guys are all household names, they’re all playing second fiddle to DeAndre Hopkins right now.

But that’s the intriguing part of Hopkins and the season he’s had so far. He’s never been a superstar. Sammy Watkins was always the go-to guy when they were teammates at Clemson. Hopkins was a late first round draft pick back in 2013, and after being drafted by the Houston Texans he continued to be No. 2, now behind Andre Johnson.

Well, Johnson is gone, and now Hopkins is to the Texans offense what J.J. Watt is to their defense—a seemingly unstoppable force.

Hopkins is sitting on 52 receptions, 726 receiving yards, and five touchdowns over the course of the first six games of this season. That’s more than most starting receivers in this league will finish the season with. That’s also just the right pace for Hopkins to have the greatest season a wide receiver has ever had in the NFL.

Right now, Hopkins is set to finish with 138 catches for over 1,900 yards and about 13 touchdowns.

Only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is even close to these numbers. Rice finished the 1995 campaign with 122 receptions, 1,848 yards, and 15 touchdowns, and there’s no one even close behind him. Of course, Calvin Johnson had that fantastic 2012 with 122 catches for a single-season record 1,964 yards through the air, but only five out of those 122 times did he find the end zone.

So what’s his secret? It can’t be easy to succeed on a team whose quarterback is whoever head coach Bill O’Brien deems the lesser of two evils that week between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett.

To answer the question, it’s a lot of hard work. I mean A LOT of hard work. Hopkins knows the ins-and-outs of five different positions in the Texans offensive scheme. Basically, the only position he would struggle at is center or maybe left tackle, but he would probably find some way to make that look easy too.

“To be able to line up at F, line up at Y, line up at Z, line up at X, that’s four positions to know,” said O’Brien. “Sometimes we put him in the backfield. To be able to know four or five positions, it’s very difficult. It’s not easy to do that, and it takes a lot of hard work, studying on your own and things like that. I think if we called any play in our offense right now, he would be able to tell what every receiving position has to do on that play. That’s a testament to him and the time he’s put in to learn our offense.”

It’s definitely hard to ignore the fact that Hopkins lines up all over the field on any given play. It’s a lot to learn, of course, but that results have been apparent.

“I put the hard work in the offseason,” said Hopkins. “So I expected to be where I am. Not a lot of people expected me to be in this position. I don’t blame them. All the work I put in the offseason.”

Are you starting to see a reoccurring theme here? Hopkins works. Hard. And a lot. And that’s why he’s easily one of the top five receivers in the game right now. Hell, if you factor in quarterback(s), you could make an argument that he’s top three.

Hopkins has never made a Pro Bowl, never was a first-team All-American, he wasn’t even on the NFL’s Top 100 Players List for 2015.

DeAndre Hopkins isn’t a household name. Yet.

Click to add a comment

Chris covers everything NBA, NFL and NCAA with his weekly recaps, highlights and anything else he thinks you'll want to know about and more than likely things you don't want to hear about your favorite team. His take no prisoners opinion gets some fans worked up, but that's because he's almost always right.

More in Football

Steelers Antonio Brown still in doghouse with Mike Tomlin 2017 images

Steelers Antonio Brown still in doghouse with Mike Tomlin

Chris MauriceJanuary 18, 2017
Super Bowl 51 Predictions in a game of Inches 2017 images

Super Bowl 51 Predictions in a game of Inches

Shane MclendonJanuary 18, 2017
aaron rodgers keeps packing it for green bay 2017 images

Aaron Rodgers keeps packing it for Green Bay

Luka AlarioJanuary 17, 2017
aaron hernandez tattoos may work against him at murder trial 2017 images

Aaron Hernandez tattoos may work against him at murder trial

Luka AlarioJanuary 17, 2017
fear aaron rodgers and what hes packing 2017 images

Fear Aaron Rodgers and what he’s Packing

Shane MclendonJanuary 17, 2017
NFL Stars Take a Massive Pay Cut when They Make the Playoffs 2017 images

NFL Stars Take a Massive Pay Cut when They Make the Playoffs

Chris MauriceJanuary 15, 2017
doug marrone and tom coughlin move to jackson jaguars 2017 images

Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin move to Jacksonville Jaguars

Chris MauriceJanuary 15, 2017
steelers leveon bell channels steph curry on field 2017 images

Stellers Le’Veon Bell channels Steph Curry on field

Chris MauriceJanuary 15, 2017
Two Unsung Falcons Heroes Devonta freeman, tevin coleman 2017 images

Two Unsung Falcons Heroes: Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman

Shane MclendonJanuary 15, 2017

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

You will only receive one per day. You'll also get a free THE WALKING DEAD graphic novel with your subscription