Julian Edelman and DeAndre Hopkins had nothing but the highest of praise for one another ahead of this weekend’s game between the Patriots and Texans.
The New England Patriots and the Houston Texans will meet for the 12th time in NFL history Sunday night at NRG Stadium.
For all the similarities and connections between the two teams in terms of coaches and staffers (Bill O’Brien, Romeo Crennel, Jack Easterby, almost Nick Caserio), there are also a world of differences personnel-wise between the rosters. Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson are both proven winners, but they couldn’t be more different types of players as quarterbacks of their respective franchises.
And as far as No. 1 wide receivers are concerned, Julian Edelman and DeAndre Hopkins are similar in that they are both extremely efficient and dangerous to opposing defenses – but that’s about where the similarities end.
Edelman is a 5-foot-10, 198-pound former college quarterback who was drafted in the seventh round out of Kent State, a relatively smaller football program in the modest MAC. It took Edelman four years to play in all 16 games for his team, and it took him five years to earn enough opportunities (and develop enough trust with Brady) to amass over 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.
On the other hand, Hopkins is a 6-foot-1, 212-pound first-round draft pick out of Clemson, one of the largest and most prolific football programs in the country. His speed, size, and exceptionally large hands had him destined for a life in the NFL as a wide receiver from a very early age, and he played in (and started) all 16 games for the Texans as a rookie. Hopkins eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in his second pro season and passed 100 receptions in a season during his third year in the NFL.
In other words, these two wideouts have had very different trajectories for a long time now. That hasn’t stopped them from admiring one another from afar, however.
According to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop, Hopkins’ favorite receiver in the league right now is Edelman. He credited Edelman as being a player who “always has a knack for getting the extra four or five yards… he’s one of my favorite receivers in the NFL because of that. Because he keeps the chains moving.”
The respect and appreciation is decidedly mutual. When Edelman was told by reporters that Hopkins had been studying his ability to get yards after the catch, he told NESN’s Zack Cox that he was “honored.”
“It’s pretty cool. He’s a hell of a football player. We’ve hung out a couple times here and there in the offseason, and I’ve seen him around. Nothing but respect for him. He’s a cool dude, and he’s an unbelievable football player. I mean, he’s not a 99 for no reason in ‘Madden.’ I’m just trying to get up on there. He’s a stud, and fortunately, I don’t play him. I play against the defensive backs and the defense, and that’s where my focus is on. But that’s very flattering and pretty cool.”
Edelman and Hopkins may represent two extremely different definitions of a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL, but just like their respective quarterbacks, they’re both hard-working, talented football players with plenty to prove and a whole lot of motivation to come out with the win on Sunday. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them exchange jerseys after the game.