It seemed to surprise draft pundits when Virginia Tech Defensive Tackle Derrick Hopkins went undrafted. It was widely thought that he would be taken on the third day of the draft after showing a great deal of improvement as a senior, racking up 54 tackles, with nine for a loss, and five sacks in 13 starts.
Despite being a bit undersized at 6ft. and 321 pounds, Hopkins plays with a ton of effort. He is explosive off the snap and shows good movement skills. He sports a variety of techniques when getting off blocks and gets to the ball quickly. The biggest knocks on Hopkins coming out of school, aside from size, are his lack of a killer instinct and strength.
Strength is something that can be fixed, obviously. Killer instinct can be learned through good coaching. This is a guy who possesses the desire to succeed and has started 40 straight games, showing both durability and consistency. Hopkins has proven that he has a a good motor and gives honest effort.
Hopkins is a classic overachiever who plays better than you would expect given his measurables and raw numbers. He is the kind of guy who makes for a great fit as a rotational run defender, which is a spot the Ravens need to fill. Defensive line depth was a bit of an issue last year and fresh bodies make all the difference down the stretch.
So can Hopkins crack that rotation? It would appear that he has a good chance after the Ravens invested a bit in him financially. Hopkins reportedly received the highest signing bonus of any of the undrafted rookies they brought in. Considering how teams face stiff competition for certain undrafted players, this is a sign that other teams may have been interested as well.
All of which bodes well for Hopkin’s chances of sticking on the roster. He certainly possesses the type of character and playing style that Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh covet. We’ll certainly be pulling for him this offseason.
Do you think that Hopkins will make the final roster? What sort of impact do you think he will make this season if he does?