What wide receiver(s) in next month's draft, could replace DeAndre Hopkins?

2020 NFL Draft: Wide receivers and the Houston Texans

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Last week, the Houston Texans traded one of the game's best wide receivers, DeAndre Hopkins, along with a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back, David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. Houston went on to sign Randall Cobb to replace some of Hopkins' production, but the team will look towards the draft to find Hopkins' long-term replacement.

I've studied 20 NFL prospects at the wide receiver position with an eye towards the Texans. If you've followed my draft evaluations for the past decade, you'll know that my rankings typically look different from the majority opinion. I block out most outside noise around this time of year and come to my conclusions based solely off of my personal film study. I'll miss some and I'll hit on some.

I also include comparisons to other receivers that have entered the NFL Draft in the past, in hopes to paint a better picture for your mind's eye. These players' comps usually display similar height and weight with similar attributes like burst, speed, physicality, etc. The comparisons are not to be taken as mirror images of the prospects in which they are linked to. These comps will not suggest future projections in stats or the exact location in which they'll be drafted.

I've ranked the prospects from 1-20 based off what I saw on film. I've also included some thoughts on a few players that may fit with the Texans.

1) CeeDee Lamb - Oklahoma (6'2 - 198)

40 Time: 4.50

Vertical: 34.5"

Draft Round: Top 10 Pick

Comp: Larry Fitzgerald

Lamb does everything naturally and effortlessly, while maintaining unusual body control. A natural hands catcher that will pluck everything, even through contact. Slippery and elusive after the catch. Lamb should be out of the Texans reach, even with a possible trade up.

2) Jerry Jeudy - Alabama (6'1 - 193)

40 Time: 4.45

Vertical: 35"

Draft Round: Top 15 Pick

Comp: Stefon Diggs

Jeudy, like Lamb, would have been ideal replacements for DeAndre Hopkins in Houston. He's a premier route-runner that has an amazing understanding of setting up the route. His quickness and explosion makes him unguardable vs man or zone. Again, it's hard to imagine the Texans moving up as high in the first round as it would take, to secure Jeudy or Lamb.

3) Denzel Mims - Baylor (6'3 - 207)

40 Time: 4.38

Vertical: 38.5"

Draft Round: Top 20 Pick

Comp: AJ Green

This is where the draft gets interesting for the Houston Texans, in regards to possibly moving up and selecting a wide receiver. Houston could create a package with their two 2nd round picks and attempt to move up for Mims. He'd be a huge step to replacing DeAndre Hopkins. Not only would they secure him at a rookie wage, much below the cost of Hopkins, at a time when they are looking to save in areas, while paying big to extend Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil. Move up to the first round would give them a fifth-year option on the contract of their new playmaker. Mims is difficult to press due to his almost 34" arms, 4.38 speed that is seen in engulfing stides. Smart in setting up routes with the ability to adjust to any vicinity throw. A devasting blocker as well, that looks to flatten as if he were a tight end.

4) Jalen Reagor - TCU (5'11 - 206)

40 Time: 4.47

Vertical: 42"

Draft Round: 1st Round

Comp: DJ Moore

Reago could bring a his deadly juke step to Houston, which he readily displays in routes or on returns. He's fast and elusive in space. Reagor plays faster than his listed 4.47 speed and displays an ability to get over-the-top or burst through weaknesses in the defense. O'Brien has an affinity for speed at the receiver position. One could speculate that O'Brien may have traded Hopkins with the idea of running a Nascar offense. Houston already stables two 4.3 receivers in Will Fuller & Kenny Stills. While Reagor times in the mid 4.4 range, like Randall Cobb, he plays to a more similar speed of Fuller and Stills.

5) Bryan Edwards - South Carolina (6'3 - 212)

Draft Round: 2nd Round

Comp: Allen Robinson

If Houston decides to stick with the #1 receiver being a prototypical big-body, Edwards would make sense. The added benefit being that Houston may not have to move up from their newly acquired second-round pick to select Edwards. Bill O'Brien coached Allen Robinson at Penn State and may see the similiarities between Robinson and Edwards, specifically in their ability to make a Matrix style move off press coverage.

6) Henry Ruggs III - Alabama (5'11 - 188)

40 Time: 4.27

Vertical: 42"

Draft Round: 2nd Round

When you run a 4.27 and jump vertically 42", you'll get drafted a few spots higher than your film deserves, typically. Ruggs' game is all speed. He'll plant his foot off the line and go. He's a spacing problem. While he'll get caught up in man at times, he's a force versus zone coverage. In the NFL he will be used on jet sweeps and gadget plays, on top of his roles as a wideout. Ruggs will most likely go in the first round and 4.27 could be the type of flirt O'Brien saw at the combine that made him call it quits with Hopkins. If that's the case, then O'Brien would have to load up his two second round picks this year and probably more, to secure another speedster.

7) Michael Pittman Jr - USC (6'4 - 223)

40 Time: 4.52

Vertical: 36.5"

Draft Round: 2nd Round

Comp: Vincent Jackson

Pittman Jr gets back to the idea of the big-body receiver as Watson's go-to-guy. Pittman wouldn't require Houston to move up and would probably be available with their later, second round pick at 57, instead of drafting receiver at 40. Pittman always uncovers on his comeback routes. He'd give Watson a sure-fire chain mover that runs sharp routes, tracks the ball extremely well and highpoints.

8) Tee Higgins - Clemson (6'4 - 216)

40 Time: 4.55

Vertical: 31

Draft Round: 2nd/3rd Round

Higgins spent most of his college career in the spotlight, playing yearly in the college football playoffs. Standing 6'4 and making big catches, in big games from the likes of Trevor Lawrence could leave us with a bias opinion on the prospect, even before studying the tape. I believe Higgins is a good receiver that still has development left, but he's getting pushed up in the draft. He has great concentration and fights through press. His size and ability to track the ball are the only ways he consistently seperates. Against bigger, faster NFL cornerbacks, I feel Higgins will have his work cut out for him.

9) Tyler Johnson - Minnesota (6'1 - 206)

Draft Round: 3rd Round

Comp: Jarvis Landry

Johnson has the type of game that isn't ideal for offseason measurements. He's savvy in how he sets up defensive backs, while tracking the ball. He displays great concentration and secures contested catches as if he's in the backyard.

10) Justin Jefferson - LSU (6'1 - 202)

40 Time: 4.43

Vertical: 37.5"

Draft Round: 3rd Round

Jefferson is another receiver that is getting a lot of love. He's a fast slot receiver that can feast against zone coverages. I believe Jefferson benefitted heavily from the offensive scheme and Joe Burrow at LSU.

11) Van Jefferson - Florida (6'1 - 200)

Draft Round: 3rd Round

Comp: Victor Cruz

Jefferson, like Cruz can uncover so quickly off the line. He combines a great burst with sharp routes.

12) Quintez Cephus - Wisconsin (6'1 - 202)

40 Time: 4.73

Vertical: 38.5"

Draft Round: 3rd Round

Comp: Hakeem Nicks

Cephus will be a great value pick for some team. He'll go later than his talent dictates based on lack of deep speed. He has a knack for getting his numbers around quick and will be a starting possession receiver for some team, soon.

13) Antonio Gandy-Golden - Liberty (6'4 - 223)

40 Time: 4.60

Vertical: 36"

Draft Round: 4th Round

Comp: Kenny Britt

Here's another bigger receiver that may not fly by defenders but will earn any veteran quarterbacks trust with his ability to highpoint as a natural hands catcher.

14) Donovan Peoples-Jones - Michigan (6'2 - 212)

40 Time: 4.48

Vertical: 44.5"

Draft Round: 4th Round

Comp: Rueben Randle

Peoples-Jones vertical is eye-popping but his film shows a guy that will be a backshoulder weapon but not an all out star.

15) Brandon Aiyuk - Arizona State (6'0 - 205)

40 Time: 4.50

Vertical: 40"

Draft Round: 4th Round

A dangerous kickoff and punt return with a deadly "electric slide" step that he combines with quickness. He'll laul a defensive back to sleep in his route and then explode. Concerning nature of concentration drops are drops on contested passes.

16) Laviska Shenault Jr - Colorado (6'1 - 227)

40 Time: 4.58

Draft Round: 5th Round

Comp: Mohamed Sanu

17) Devin Duvernay - Texas (5'10 - 200)

40 Time: 4.39

Vertical: 35.5"

Draft Round: 5th Round

18) Lynn Bowden Jr - Kentucky (5'11 - 204)

Draft Round: 6th Round

Comp: Antwaan Randle El

19) KJ Hamler - Penn State (5'9 - 178)

Draft Round: 6th Round

20) Collin Johnson - Texas (6'6 - 222)

Draft Round: 6th Round

Comp: James Hardy

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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