Draft Watch: Brycen Hopkins

In preparation for FakePigskin’s 2020 Senior Bowl/NFL draft coverage. I will take a look at prospects whom are projected to have a major role at the next level

Each prospect will be broken down by characteristics used when evaluating players and how they should translate at the next level.

Name: Brycen Hopkins

Position: Tight End

School: Purdue

Height: 6’ 5’’

Weight: 245

Overview

Brycen Hopkins is one of the top tight end prospects in this year’s class. He is an extremely versatile player who can line up inline, at H-back, and in the slot. A receiving tight end that will cause mismatches for defenses, Hopkins will draw plenty of attention from NFL personnel in the pre-draft process.

A vital part of the Purdue offense this year, he finished second on the team in receiving yards (830) and catches (61) while tying for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with seven. He leaves the program with a career stat total of 130 receptions for 1,945 yards (15.0 ypc) and 16 touchdowns.

Attributes

Release vs. Press Coverage

Hopkins’ big frame and strength aid him in his ability to fight off press coverage. His good explosion off the line, excellent footwork and agility help him gain a good release against defenders.

Route Running

This is one of his strong suits. Hopkins has a full route tree in his arsenal and can utilize this asset from different alignments in offensive formations. He has a good feel against zone and will find the open areas to make himself available. He’s a smooth, sharp route runner who sets up defenders well and can also stretch the seam vertically.

Run after Catch

Hopkins has good speed, especially for a tight end. If he gets behind the defense on a seam route he has the speed to take it the distance. While not overly flashy with the ball, he’s plenty athletic and fast to get extra yards if given space. Will lower his pads against tacklers and push forward to gain extra yards.

Hands/Body Adjustment

Has a good set of hands and does a good job of extending and catching the ball away from his body. Will go up and make contested catches and excels at high pointing the ball. Isn’t afraid to work over the middle in traffic and will secure the catch through contact. Does tend to have concentration drops from time to time and would like to see that improved.

Blocking

This area needs improvement. He is a better a pass blocker than run blocker. Hopkins is a willing blocker, but definitely has his struggles, especially at inline run blocking. He doesn’t generate much of a push and lacks power when he engages his man when run blocking. Hopkins does have the willingness and size/build to improve as blocker.

Playmaking and Separation Ability

Hopkins’ size and athletic ability make him a play maker who can go up and get it in contested situations. High points well and can make the big play when you need it. Gaining separation is definitely something Hopkins excels at due to his crafty route running and smooth athleticism.

Final Thoughts

Hopkins can make an early impact in the NFL as a receiving threat, due to his expanded route tree and versatility. He is best suited for an offense that will use him more as a “move” tight end and utilizes him in the slot. He might struggle early if he is asked to play primarily inline due to his struggles as a blocker.

If Hopkins can make the improvements needed as a blocker, he has big potential at the next level. This is something scouts will be looking at during the upcoming Senior Bowl, among other things. If he shows he can be relied upon as an every down tight end, Hopkins has a chance to rise up team’s draft boards.

Projected: Round 2-3

Questions Mark: Blocking. Needs to improve inline blocking in order to be an every down tight end in the NFL.

Comp: Zach Ertz

Team Fit: Chicago

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