ESPN poll has Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins as 2nd-best WR

Jul 14, 2021, 11:17 AM | Updated: 2:00 pm
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) scores a touchdown as Philadelphia Eagles defe...
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) scores a touchdown as Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Michael Jacquet (38) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

In his first year with the Arizona Cardinals, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins lived up to the hype.

He ended 2020 with 115 receptions for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns, and he finished first among all receivers in first-down catches (75).

ESPN’s poll of NFL executives rank Hopkins as the second-best wide receiver heading into 2021. He sits in the top three with Green Bay Packers’ Davante Adams (1st) and Buffalo Bills’ Stefon Diggs (3rd).

‘He’s not a blazer, but who cares — the guy just wins,’ an NFC offensive coach said. ‘With those big hands and long arms, and the way he competes, I’m not sure I’d want anyone else to make a catch for me if I needed one play with the game on the line.’

The Cardinals wideout and quarterback Kyler Murray didn’t have a regular offseason together, but Murray learned to trust Hopkins in big moments.

With just seconds left and three defenders in his grill, Hopkins caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Murray to defeat the Bills 32-30 in Week 10.

The game-winning play was recognized as the “Hail Murray” and named Best Play at the 2021 ESPYs.

But this was just a glimpse at how reliable Hopkins was last season. He dropped only one pass out of his team-leading 160 targets (0.06%), compared to a 2% drop rate in 2019.

And while he doesn’t mind carrying most of the load, Hopkins also doesn’t mind having help.

To team with Hopkins and Christian Kirk, Arizona added former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and drafted Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore in the second round.

More weapons could mean fewer eyes on Hopkins, which means more targets and one-on-one opportunities for the five-time Pro Bowler.

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ESPN poll has Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins as 2nd-best WR