PFF: Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins a top-10 player in NFL

Jun 7, 2020, 8:15 PM

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans smiles as he warms up before taking on the ...

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans smiles as he warms up before taking on the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals newcomer DeAndre Hopkins is among the best wide receivers in the NFL, but he might be even more than that.

Pro Football Focus ranked Hopkins the ninth-best player — of any position — in the NFL going into the 2020 season. He was ahead of Christian McCaffrey (10), Drew Brees (11), J.J. Watt (13), Khalil Mack (18), Travis Kelce (19) and Tom Brady (24), to name a few.

He was also ranked fourth among those in the NFC West. The Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald was No. 1 on the list, while San Francisco’s George Kittle was fifth and Seattle’s Russell Wilson was seventh.

Two receivers were ahead of Hopkins: the Saints’ Michael Thomas (6) and Atlanta’s Julio Jones (3).

What DeAndre Hopkins has been able to do in his NFL career with the quarterbacks he’s worked with, outside of Deshaun Watson, has been remarkable. He should be able to maintain strong quarterback play heading into 2020 with a new team and Kyler Murray under center. Over the past three years, no receiver has a higher PFF receiving grade than Hopkins’ 93.7 mark, and he has the fourth-most contested catches — all while dropping just 11 passes on 469 targets.

In Hopkins’ first four years in the NFL, the leading passer on the Texans was different every year, with Matt Schaub, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer and Brock Osweiler at QB in that order. Hopkins said last week that he would have had better production than Thomas and Jones if not for the advantage those players have had with their quarterbacks.

“Mike’s my boy. I love Mike. But he knows if I had Drew Brees my whole career what these numbers would be,” Hopkins told ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby. “Julio Jones knows if I had Matt Ryan my whole career. That’s my boy. I trained with Julio, too. He knows what these numbers would be.

“Those guys are definitely blessed to be in a position where, their whole career, they had a Pro Bowl quarterback — quarterback that they spent multiple seasons with. But I don’t complain. I don’t make excuses. I go out there and work.”

If nothing else, the past three years with Watson have seen Hopkins’ numbers be more consistent. In his first four seasons, he had only two years of more than 1,000 receiving yards. But he’s reached 1,000+ in all three years that he’s been teamed up with Watson.

Former Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell was No. 36 on PFF’s ranking. No other current Arizona players made the cut.

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PFF: Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins a top-10 player in NFL