NFL Draft

2020 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Purdue TE Brycen Hopkins

From now until the 2020 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#89 Brycen Hopkins/ TE Purdue – 6’5” 245

The Good

  • NFL bloodlines
  • Very good athletic ability
  • Full route tree and can be used on any level
  • Natural hands catching away from his body and adjusts well around his frame
  • Good speed capable of taking it the distance
  • Solid blocker one on one in space

The Bad

  • Lacks physicality and will struggle against physical defenders
  • Looks uncomfortable on throw below the waist
  • Doesn’t break tackles limiting his run after the catch
  • Lacks play strength and leg drive to move defenders in line
  • Not aggressive when pulling or lead blocking


  • Career – 130 receptions, 1,945 yards, 16 TDs
  • 2019 – 61 Receptions, 830 yards, 7 TD
  • 2019 Team co-captain, 47 career games, 16 starts
  • 2019 B1G Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year; 1st team All B1G
  • Father, Brad, played football at Illinois and 13 years in NFL with HOU/TEN
  • High School – Also lettered in basketball and baseball
  • Majoring in selling and sales management

Tape Breakdown

His first reception for Purdue went for 51 yards and a touchdown and was a sign of good things to come. An experienced tight end playing in 47 games game in his career and was moved around on offense. He lined up on the wing, in the slot, in line and in the full back position and finished his college career averaging 15 yards per catch.

As a receiver he has a complete route tree capable of being used on all three levels to the inside and outside.  From a 2 point or 3 point stance he shows good acceleration off the line of scrimmage and gets up to speed quickly. He uses quickness, head nods and mental processing to manipulate coverages to create space and gets his head around quickly.  He’s a good route runner with solid explosiveness out of his breaks.  He accepts his assignment and commits to executing and is especially good on selling blocks and then releasing putting him in advantageous situations on plays like drag routes in the red zone or wheel routes off of fake screens. He handles himself well vs Zone coverage able to find openings in the short and intermediate levels and make himself a good target for the QB.  He has natural hands catching away from his body and adjusts well up, down and in front of his body while on the move or stationary. After the catch with space he can get yards after the catch and can take it the distance.  Physical defenders can knock him off his route, he seems uncomfortable on throws below the waist and he doesn’t break a lot of tackles limiting his run after the catch.

Vs Nebraska, he’s the Y on the right and will act like he is blocking before releasing on a drag across the field for an easy TD catch.


Vs Indiana, on 3rd and 7 he’s going to take a slant the distance for a 72 yard TD.


Vs Nebraska from the tight slot on the right he will feign blocking for screen before wheeling to the outside for big gain.


At Wisconsin he’s going to release to the outside from the Y position like he is blocking.  The defense buys it and releases to the corner for touchdown.


Here is a nice highlight film for him from the B1G.

As a blocker he is willing but is better in space rather than in the traditional tight end role.  He has shown quickness to reach block on the backside of plays. When he is one on one outside with DB/LB where he can uses his hands and mirror the defender he is solid. He lacks the physicality and aggressiveness to block inside whether on the line of scrimmage or as a lead/pull blocker and will struggle vs aggressive defenders. He doesn’t attack the defender or use leg drive to move would be tacklers. He doesn’t sustain his blocks and will turn his head back toward the play instead of concentrating on his assignment.  In Pass Pro, he is knows his assignment and works to stay between the opponent and the quarterback.  He shows good agility to stay with the defender but last the play strength or anchor to handle power rushes.  When he is uncovered he looks for work and will help his teammates. Here are some of his less impressive reps.

At Nebraska, he is the Y on the right side of the LOS. You can see the quick feet to get inside of the defender and wall him off but he doesn’t play to the whistle and his guy ends up in on the tackle.


Vs Maryland from the right wing he’ll slide across the formation to attempt to back on the backside but is passive and gets blown back into the runner.


At Wisconsin, here is a pass pro rep from the right side and the aggressive defender will drive him back to the QB.


For the TE position is hard to find the unicorn like Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce or Heath Miller. The guy that is adept as a receiver and as a blocker. More often nowadays teams will use several TE’s to fill that role.  Hopkins fits in that flex TE role being a better receiver than blocker.  I think he can improve on the blocking if he puts the effort into it. He needs to be more aggressive.  He fits as the move or H TE in an offense that can excel in the slot as receiver on all three levels.

Projection: 2nd Round

Games Watched:  2018 – At Nebraska, Vs Auburn; 2019 – At Nevada, Vs Maryland, At Wisconsin

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