Is DeAndre Hopkins a future Hall of Famer?

Will Hopkins be cast into Canton?

By: Brock Wells

Though DeAndre Hopkins has found himself on the wrong end of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy to start his 2022 season, there’s no denying that he’s been one of the league’s best wide receivers since roughly 2014. In his seven seasons with the Houston Texans, he became arguably, alongside J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson, the franchise’s greatest player. With the Arizona Cardinals, he had an excellent 2020 season while his 2021 season was marred by injury.

Hopkins led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2017 with 13. In his nine seasons in the league, he’s had six seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards, including four straight from 2017 to 2020. But if his career ended today, is he a future member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame? How much time has he spent as the undisputed best receiver in the league, particularly in comparison with other recent receivers who’ve been enshrined?

The last three receivers enshrined in the Hall of Fame are Cliff Branch, Drew Pearson, and Calvin Johnson. Just how does Hopkins compare to these three respectively?

Career receiving yards (regular season):

  • Hopkins: 10,581
  • Branch: 8,685
  • Pearson: 7, 822
  • Johnson: 11, 619
DeAndre Hopkins does his thing.

A couple of things need further context: 1) The rules of the game that governed the era of Hopkins and Johnson are much friendlier to the offense than those that Branch and Pearson played with. 2) Branch and Pearson both have Super Bowl wins to their credit. Branch and Pearson were also both regular participants in NFL postseason. Perhaps it’s unfair to scrutinize Hopkins for having played on generally poorer teams, but this kind of thing is considered in Hall of Fame voting.

Other details:

Number of seasons leading the league in receiving yards:

  • Hopkins: 0
  • Branch: 1
  • Pearson: 1
  • Johnson: 2

Number of seasons leading the league in receiving touchdowns:

  • Hopkins: 1
  • Branch: 2
  • Pearson: 0
  • Johnson: 1

Number of seasons leading the league in receiving yards per game:

  • Hopkins: 0
  • Branch: 2
  • Pearson: 1
  • Johnson: 2

It doesn’t particularly appear at this point that Hopkins sets himself too far apart from some of his contemporaries in enough statistical categories to be considered for the Hall of Fame at this point. There’s no question as to his abilities and his place as one of the best receivers of his generation. But Hall of Fame worthy? When Calvin Johnson led the league in receiving yards per game, he did so with 105.1 (2011) and 122.8 (2012). Hopkins has never averaged over 100 receiving yards per game in his entire career.

Cliff Branch scored five receiving touchdowns in his career in the postseason. Drew Pearson scored eight. Hopkins has just one. It’s certainly foreseeable that given his position in Arizona, Hopkins is in a good place to continue working towards a Hall of Fame trajectory. If he can replicate his 2020 campaign a couple of more times and perform well in a postseason game or two with the team, his case will become much stronger. As it stands, he lands outside the realm of Canton-level wide receivers.

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