The Los Angeles Rams added some very intriguing, young pieces to the roster in their most recent draft haul. With their only selection in the 4th round of the NFL draft, the Rams drafted Brycen Hopkins, TE out of Purdue University. Although this pick may just seem like a cushion for depth at the position, Hopkins has all the attributes to become a high-caliber tight end later in his career.
It is apparent that American-football runs in the blood of the Hopkins family; Brycens’ father, Brad Hopkins played in the NFL for thirteen seasons (1993-2006) as a dependable offensive tackle. Brycen took advantage of his athletic genealogy as early as high school, where he thrived as a multi-sport athlete. He ultimately chose to follow his fathers’ footsteps and pursue football at the collegiate level.
He struggled to find consistency during his sophomore and junior years, however, his senior season saw an eruption in production. Hopkins was one of the top two college football tight ends that received an “elite production score” from the NFL’s Next Generation Statistics. He tore opposing defenses apart and finished his final year at Purdue with seven receiving touchdowns, 830 receiving yards, off of 61 receptions. Moreover, his stellar performance against Maryland this past season set his career-high in receptions (10) and receiving yards (140) in a game.
Brycen Hopkins’ game tape says a lot about the type of player he is. His height and athleticism make him a significant threat in the Red Zone. Hopkins displays phenomenal ball skills; he has sure hands and the body control to quickly adjust while in the air. He also demonstrates great route-running ability and can be a mismatch against slower linebackers in man defense. Hopkins also ran a 4.66 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
Head Coach Sean McVay may be able to develop certain schemes while utilizing Hopkins at the slot position. He does lack the frame and strength to become a useful run-blocker, but this is a trait that can be developed throughout his career in the NFL.
Playing behind veteran teammates, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett may bode well for Hopkins’ development. He does have a lot to improve on in regards to his physicality in blocking and creating separation. His snap count may also be limited due to his standing on the depth chart, but fans should not be surprised if he makes it into the rotation on a week-by-week basis.
General Manager Les Sneads’ decision to select Brycen Hopkins came down to his unique athleticism. As stated before, Hopkins can potentially move down to the slot position because of his speed and hands. Jared Goff should be ecstatic to have another potential weapon in their passing game.