In the 2014 and 2015 seasons alone, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden. Six quarterbacks, in two years, all with one team.
Despite that constantly revolving quarterback carousel, Hopkins collected 2,731 yards and 17 touchdowns in that span. His yardage output was fifth among the entire NFL, his touchdowns tied for eighth.
When you log those incredible statistics with such irregular and often lackluster quarterback play, you know you’ve got something special. It stands to reason, then, that Hopkins thinks he’s of an elite tier, and he let those feelings become known on ESPN’s Jalen and Jacoby.
David Jacoby, mentioning that Michael Thomas has previously staked a claim to the title of the NFL’s best wide receiver, asked Hopkins where he sees himself on that hierarchy of receiving talent.
“I definitely think I’m the best… I know I’m the best,” Hopkins said. “Mike [Thomas] is my boy… but he know[s] if I had Drew Brees my whole career what these numbers would be. Julio Jones know[s] if I had Matt Ryan my whole career… he knows what these numbers would be.”
Based on the above description of Hopkins’ early career, these assertions hold a lot of weight.
The one quarterback he's probably not including in his overall slight of his previous signal-callers is Deshaun Watson. The current Texans quarterback has been consistently producing strong offensive numbers since 2017, to the tune of a 24-13 record, over 3,800 yards the past two seasons, and a near 5:2 touchdown to interception ratio throughout his career.
Granted, he may not be the same quarterback that Drew Brees is at this point in his career -- and the same can be said for Matt Ryan -- but he’s not so bad himself. Since Watson became a full-time yearly starter in 2018, Brees leads the NFL with a 115.9 passer rating, but the Texans QB boasts a 100.6 rating in his own right, which actually slightly edges Matt Ryan on the list of top ten quarterbacks in that statistic. Watson has also been in the league for just three years, whereas Brees and Ryan are established veterans.
It seems unlikely that Hopkins would include Watson in the jumble of Houston quarterbacks based on what he's said previously, anyway. Just last month, Hopkins said that his trade to Arizona was “really nothing to Deshaun” and that he knows “he’s going to be able to overcome not having a number one receiver like myself,” (via Sports Illustrated). That doesn't seem like something a receiver would say if he truly views his quarterback's talent as inferior to others.
Quarterbacks aside, the three receivers are neck and neck in a number of offensive categories in recent years. Since 2017, Jones leads the NFL in receiving yards, while Thomas and Hopkins round out the top three in that order. Thomas paces the league in receptions with 378, while Hopkins is second and Jones is in the top five. In terms of scoring, Hopkins leads all receivers with 31 touchdowns, while Thomas is fifth with 23 and Jones, whose knack for finding the end zone hasn’t been as sharp lately, sits just outside the top 20.
Whichever way you look at it, each wide receiver has a legitimate case to be in that number one slot, sitting above the entirety of the league’s receivers. If Hopkins is right, and a strong rapport with Kyler Murray could be the key to unlocking some other insane dimension of Hopkins’ game that allows him to become the undisputed No. 1 receiver in football, the league better watch out.
Nuk could be on the loose.