The Los Angeles Rams traded away their 126th overall pick to the Houston Texans in exchange for pick No. 136 of the 2020 NFL Draft. The Rams selected Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins in the fourth round, adding to an already deep tight end corps. The pick was a shock to the Rams social media universe. Many expressing concerns about more pressing needs at linebacker and offensive line.
They chose not to grab Oregon linebacker Troy Dye or Appalachian State linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither. Instead, they threw a curveball. It appears the Rams may be gearing up for tight end Gerald Everett’s departure if they let him walk in free agency in 2021. Everett is still considered the No. 2 alongside tight end Tyler Higbee. The Rams also have Johnny Mundt, Kendall Blanton and Ethan Wolf. With the addition of Hopkins, here is what he has accomplished and what the Rams can expect in the future:
College Stats and Honors:
2019: 61 receptions for 830 yards and seven touchdowns
Career: 130 receptions for 1,945 yards and 16 touchdowns
Honors: 2019 All-American honors, 2019 Big Ten Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year, 2019 team co-captain, 2019 John Mackey Tight End of the Week (against Nevada Aug. 30 with career-high six catches for 84 yards and one touchdown), 2019: Most receptions and yardage in a season by a Boilermaker tight end since 2007.
Hopkins was Purdue’s number one receiving target in 2019. He has the incredible ability to make catches in tight coverage situations. He is especially agile when reaching for the ball and making a play downfield. He can also evade and break tackles after the catch. Hopkins has a comparable look to Everett, even utilizing a similar style of balance and footwork near the sidelines.
At 6’4” and 245 pounds, Hopkins is a good size for an NFL tight end, although he may need to add a little weight. He is also fast, running a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine. Along with his speed, he is a tough competitor who can take hits from defenders and complete the play. His strongest asset is his route running. He finds the ball and is dangerous in open field. The Rams may have a powerful addition to an already loaded group of talented tight ends.
Hopkins is a bit undersized in terms of weight for a tight end, although he is a little larger than Everett. His biggest weakness would be his in-line blocking. He has trouble with hand placement and does not have the size for impact blocking. He needs to work on block positioning as he has a habit of ducking low and bending at the waist. He also has a weak stance and is slow to make contact. This can be worked on in the offseason while getting him NFL-ready. Hopkins is a strong route runner and receiver, but he has numerous dropped passes. He has dropped 22 passes out of 152 in his career.
Expectations in 2020
If the Rams run with a 12 personnel, Hopkins may see some playing time. That will be hard with Higbee and Everett in front. Mundt is also the best number three tight end on the roster. Hopkins will most likely not play outside of special teams. He is the strongest backup to Everett or Mundt if the Rams decide not to re-sign them in 2021. If that happens, the Rams could soon see a strong and well-developed tight end.
Mundt may be wise to keep around in case the Rams need more blocking help. He could also be used a fullback. However, Mundt’s talents differ from Hopkins, so don’t expect to see a whole lot from Hopkins unless there’s an injury.