HT: 6'1" WT: 214LBS.
ARM LENGTH: 33 3/8"
Hopkins' childhood nickname "Nuuuk" came from a special brand of baby pacifier he required because he bit through most others. The confident receiver will tell you he's added another reason for that moniker -- he feels almost nuclear in his explosion on the field. And after a stand-out junior season, which capped an overall productive three-year career at Clemson, NFL scouts agree he's got a chance to be a significant contributor on Sundays.
The nephew of the late Terry Smith, who caught 162 passes for Clemson from 1990-93, was yet another top South Carolina recruit the Tigers kept in-state. Hopkins earned the team's Rookie of the Year award in 2010, starting eight of 12 games and leading the team with 52 catches (covering 637 yards and four touchdowns). He joined the Clemson basketball team as a reserve after the season, one year after leading his high school team to a state title. He played in every game, starting 11, as a sophomore in 2011, being somewhat overlooked despite nearly reaching 1,000 receiving yards (978 on 72 catches, also five touchdowns) because of the electric play of freshman Sammy Watkins. Hopkins suffered a mild concussion in a car accident on his way to the team's disappointing 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia, but he still managed a school bowl-record 10 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Hopkins was good over his first two seasons in Death Valley, but in 2012 he was great, finishing with a single-season school record 1,405 receiving yards. Hopkins also set a new ACC mark with 18 receiving scores, adding a team-best 82 catches. Despite his quarterback deciding to return for his senior season, Hopkins decided to depart after his record-breaking junior season, leaving with a school record for 100-yard receiving games (12).
"If you want to argue with that pick, put the LSU tape on. He took the game over in the fourth quarter. He took the game over when it mattered most. He competes as well as anyone I've seen." -- Mike Mayock
Good height and length for an outside receiver; also has some lower-body strength for explosion off the line and in his cuts. Solid route-runner used in the short, intermediate and deep games, who has flexibility to avoid corners in zone and the quick feet to separate on hitches, comebacks, and other cuts. Does a nice job creating separation and deceiving defensive backs with head fakes and quick moves. Will threaten the top of defenses with NFL-quality straight-line speed. Possesses strong hands in traffic, not afraid of contact downfield and can separate at the last second with an arm extension. Agile enough to quickly avoid oncoming defenders after the catch yet remain balanced to head downfield for the big gain. Does not go down without a fight, can run through arm tackle attempts from cornerbacks. Snatches throws with his hands. Concentrates on the ball throughout difficult catches. Very good body control to contort his body on catches and pluck the ball out of the air. Effective run blocker, usually reaches his target and gets his hands up, uses correct blocking angle to sustain; also shows some nastiness at times, capable of putting his man to the ground. Consistently productive over his time at Clemson, improving his stats each season.
Only average size for a starting outside receiver and has room to add bulk. Occasionally loses track of the ball on easy catches when trying to make a move too early. Must prove his ability to use his hands to beat press coverage from NFL veterans off the line. Dances around defenders and run backward after short catches at times. Will need to be more consistently physical in the blocking game at the next level.
Sammy Watkins got a lot of headlines as a true freshman in 2011 because of his exceptional skills, but Clemson's "other" receiver, Hopkins, produced consistently using his NFL body and hands. "Nuke" excited the Death Valley crowds with his big plays as a sophomore (978 yards, five touchdowns), but he took his game to the next level in 2012, emerging as Clemson's No. 1 weapon for Tajh Boyd. Hopkins re-wrote the Clemson receiving record books in 2012 with 18 receiving touchdowns (the No. 2 player in the ACC was NC State's Bryan Underwood with 10). Hopkins does a nice job setting up his routes to keep defenders off balance and attack the ball at its highest point. He has fluid body control and the focus to be a reliable starting WR option in the NFL.