New Arizona Cardinals wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson spent most of the early portion of his coaching career with an up-close, personal view of Calvin Johnson, seeing first-hand how the Hall of Fame wideout was different.
Jefferson said Tuesday that in his view, only one receiver in the NFL reminds him of Megatron: DeAndre Hopkins.
"(Hopkins is) probably the only one in the league I can compare to Calvin right now, has the skill set Calvin had, playing above the rim and in those competitive situations coming down with the ball," Jefferson said, via the team's official website.
Following his playing career, Jefferson was the Detroit Lions assistant WRs coach in 2007 when Johnson entered the NFL. Jefferson was then elevated to receivers coach full time from 2008-2012, the bulk of Megatron's career.
The 51-year-old assistant has a unique perspective on what made Johnson the best in the league during his Hall of Fame run. Johnson's record-setting 1,964-yard receiving season came in Jefferson's final year with the Lions.
Generating 1,000-plus yard seasons in six of his eight seasons, Hopkins certainly owns some of the same skills that made Johnson great. Most notably, Megatron and Nuk both own the ability to high-point the ball in traffic, their massive, vice-grip hands allowing them to clutch the pigskin as defensive backs swipe. Hopkins' Hail Murray victory catch in 2020 was as good a Megatron replication as we've seen.
Former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz -- head coach for most of Jefferson's tenure in Detroit -- made headlines this season when he compared DK Metcalf to Johnson. The comparison was supposed to be a compliment, but Metcalf turned it into a motivating slight. Perhaps Metcalf will also view Jefferson not comparing him to Megatron as another slight, just to close that circle.
As for the big question on the Cardinals receiver corps this season, the future of Larry Fitzgerald, Jefferson said he has "no insight" into whether the future Hall of Famer plans to retire or return.
"I try not to bother guys during this time," Jefferson said of the 38-year-old Fitzgerald. "This kid is the ultimate professional. I look forward to talking with him."