Hopkins notched 52 catches for 537 yards and 4 scores as a true freshman with three 100-yard games in the final four contests. He finished with 72 receptions for 978 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2011, but his productive sophomore season went mostly overlooked because of Sammy Watkins' phenomenal freshman campaign.
With Watkins suspended for the first two games of 2012 and battling injuries, Hopkins was expected to step up as a junior. And he did just that with an ACC-best 1,405 yards on 82 catches and a school-record 18 touchdowns (second in the nation), earning First Team All-Conference honors.
To no surprise, Hopkins decided to cash-in on his productive season and go pro, leaving Clemson with career records for receiving yards (3,020), 100-yard receiving performances (12) and career touchdown grabs (27), including at least one score in each of the last 12 games.
Nicknamed "Nuke", Hopkins isn't the biggest or fastest, but he plays quick, controlled and tough with reliable hands and focus to locate and pluck. He is a natural receiver with outstanding awareness for the position and has been productive wherever he's been, why should the NFL be any different?
Strong hands with above average body control and focus to highpoint and attack the ball in the air. Tracks the deep ball and shows a second gear to separate at the final moment and finish. Very good short-area burst in his cuts with some beautiful stop-and-go moves and route acceleration to create room.
Good shoulder dip and footwork to set up his routes with very good feel, taking pride in his patterns. Handled quarterback Tajh Boyd's fastballs the past three years and uses his extension to reel-in tough grabs - high, low or outside, he goes and gets it. Uses his body well to box-out defenders and is fearless over the middle.
Changes gears well and knows how to turn on the jets, using his vision and awareness to create. Competitive and physical attitude and wants the ball more than anyone else on the field, never conceding the top receiver distinction to Watkins. Dedicated himself to the weight room this past off-season and it shows on the field. Much improved maturity took even the coaches by surprise with his goal oriented approach and work ethic. Super productive the past three seasons, leaving with school with numerous school and conference records.
Weaknesses: Lean torso with average height and frame with limited growth potential. Won't break a lot of tackles and has room to get stronger. Will have his share of focus drops, running before securing the grab at times.
Will attempt to corral the catch at times instead of using his palms. Lacks track speed and won't be able to leave NFL cornerbacks in his dust on foot speed alone. Showed steady progression each year, but still improving his consistency and is not yet a finished product.
Compares to: Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts - Like Wayne, Hopkins isn't the biggest or fastest, but he's able to manipulate his routes to create separation and is a reliable pass catcher with the body control, focus and competitive nature to finish. And like Wayne (30th pick in the 2001 NFL Draft), Hopkins will likely fall out of the top-25 picks and prove to be an excellent value in the late first or early second round.