Who the NFL’s best wide receiver is will continue to be a debate, but DeAndre Hopkins has presented a strong case for himself.
In some order, the names atop the list of the NFL’s best wide receivers are Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams and Michael Thomas right now. Among those, Beckham and Hopkins can say they’ve overcome mostly lackluster quarterback play to post high-level numbers.
Hopkins had Deshaun Watson under center for a full season last year, and not coincidentally he posted career highs in catches (115), receiving yards (1,572), yards per game (98.3), yards per target (9.6) and catch rate (70.6 percent). Via Pro Football Focus, he also set a record for most catchable targets without a drop (115).
Hopkins doesn’t stand out in terms of size or speed, listed at 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds with a 4.57 40-yard dash time at the 2013 NFL Combine. But beyond immeasurable talent he is more important to his team than any wide receiver in the league, as he accounted for at least one-third of the Texans’ catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season. Houston is mostly counting on better health from Will Fuller and Keke Coutee to reduce that load this year.
During an appearance with Adam Schein on Mad Dog Radio Thursday morning, Hopkins was asked if he thinks he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL. His answer was definitive.
"No argument at all, man,” Hopkins said. “I think some will try to debate it, but no receiver, I think, could put up the numbers I have with the situation I’ve been in. So for me it’s no debate."
Tom Savage, T.J. Yates, Brock Osweiler, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and Matt Schaub.
That’s the collection of quarterbacks other than Watson who have started games for the Texans during Hopkins’ career. Schaub and Fitzpatrick stand as the best of the lot, which says it all and in Schaub’s case he only started eight games during Hopkins’ rookie season in 2013.
Hopkins’ public declaration that he is the best wide receiver in the league is not a surprise, as he absolutely should carry that belief. He also showed what he could do with a highly capable quarterback in place for all 16 games last season, further bolstering his case compared to his peers who have had the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees throwing them passes.