By Carl Mahler and Kayla Morton
Hopkins’ Career Gets New Tests in Arizona
Hopkins is without question one of the league’s best receivers, if not the best receiver, in today’s game. Last season he played in Houston and finished the season with 104 receptions for 1,165 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns.
Now, after being traded to Arizona in the offseason, Hopkins will have to put his skills to the test with a different style quarterback. Mobile QB Kyler Murray will without a doubt utilize Hopkins as his No. 1 target, but he’s a QB that will take plays away from Hopkins with his legs. While Deshaun Watson is mobile down in Houston, he doesn’t scramble for plays himself as much as Murray and the Cardinal offense does.
Hopkins will also have to adjust to the team he’s on having a run-game. The Texans have struggled in recent years at the position, but Arizona seems to be confident with Kenyan Drake who took off after being traded from Miami last season.
Eyes Remain on Parker, Hopkins
Going into the 2020 season Parker should presumably be the Dolphins’ No. 1 wideout and look to build off his best season of his young NFL career. Whoever the QB is to begin the season, Parker will undoubtedly be the go-to WR in every game of the season.
Hopkins is no different than Parker, as paired up with a rising QB Murray, Hopkins will take over the Cardinals No. 1 receiving spot and lead the team going forward. He’ll likely take a target/catch cut with the talent loaded around him out in Arizona, but his numbers should still set him apart from everyone.
Five-Win Seasons for First Year Head Coaches
Coming off a 5-11 record under first year head coach Brian Flores, the Dolphins are hoping to build off last season and push for a better 2020 outcome. Miami is missing some pieces to complete the team as a whole and will struggle at times in the season to maintain consistency. But, Parker without question doesn’t leave a question mark at the top receiver position, and being with the team now for six years, should be a successful mentor to the other WRs as well as the new faces on the offense.
The Cardinals under first year head coach Kliff Kingsbury are coming off a 5-10-1 season that they’re likely hoping to put far in the rearview. A dead last finish in the division again can’t sit too well, and Arizona made a statement move in acquiring Hopkins to pass that title off to someone else. Shipping off RB David Johnson also cleans house and the two moves skyrocket the offense’s value out west.
DeVante Parker’s Needs For Improvement
Parker has dealt with a fair share of injuries throughout his young career, as he has only completed one full season (2019). The other biggest need for improvement for Parker would be his speed. Without having optimal speed, Parker has compensated to one-on-one strength. If he can continue to work on his speed, he’ll be able to utilize both effectively.
DeAndre Hopkins Needs For Improvement
Hopkins from day one has shown that he can line up and go toe-to-toe with some of the game’s best corners and safeties and win the matchup. His biggest need for improvement would be beating those said opponents in press coverage off the snap however and getting open in space. If he can work on this and execute in games, he’ll be nearly untouchable.
Parker, Hopkins’ Impact in Matchup
Parker is going to be the team’s best option for a deep threat shot no matter who’s under center when these two teams play. He can expose a weak Arizona secondary after the Cardinals gave up the secondest highest total number of TD passes (38) in 2019. Parker was one TD away from double digits last season, so with his play on the rise, he could look to pad his number in the game.
If you are looking for a player to win the 50/50 catches then look no further than Hopkins. Over the last few seasons Hopkins has been known to put on spectacular highlight-reel catches and score from various angles and routes when teams are least expecting it. The true definition of a clutch player. Hopkins, like Parker, can expose the Dolphins’ secondary for their weak pass coverage. The only team worse than Arizona in TDs allowed? Miami with 39.
Hopkins Routes Parker
While this is not your average game to look forward to this season, watching two talented wideouts clash it out is worth noting. How both teams’ respective secondary’s adjust to two top-notch WRs will be the question, but Hopkins should come out victorious out of the matchup really just based on track record. Hopkins over his career has proven to be the more reliable and consistent on-field player who seems to always produce on game day.