So I've spent a few hours over the last few days and weeks whenever i've had some spare time on my hands and I just thought i'd share some of the things I'd noticed in regards to these two wide receivers who are regarded as two of the best in this currently class.
Woods is such a fun player to watch. For a start Woods is a more of a play maker than Hopkins. He's a far more elusive runner. You see this in the Syracuse game where he turns quick screen passes into 8 or 9 yard plays that make first downs. It's particularly evident in his running style. He's stooped shifty runner that never gives many people a clean line to take him down. It's especially fun watching him run 10 yard curl routes, catch the pass with his back to the end zone and then spin away from his marker and get up field. Woods' route running and pass catching are terrific but it's the small things that are really eye catching. Woods has a great tendency to see a play developing and be able to make himself available to his QB. This is seen in the game against Oregon where Barkley get's flushed out of the pocket and is forced to throw it across his body. Woods who starts out on the left goes across the middle before cutting back across towards the left side of the end zone to make the diving catch.
Woods get's a lot of action with routes across the middle of the field and in particular thrives in the space between the linebacker and the deep safety where he can make a catch and turn up field to make extra yardage. Woods also shows a really good first step off the line to create some space. Multiple times you see him pull a little hesitation move off the line before exploding down field. Once he's in space he's strong enough to shield off his cover and make the catch. But what really impresses me about Woods is his balance and his ability to adjust his body and make difficult catches. A number of times we see Barkley throw it to Woods back shoulder in the end zone. Woods keeps his eyes on the ball has great positioning with his feet and makes multiple fantastic grabs. Woods strengths are his ability to get himself in the right position to make a play and once in space is quick and elusive enough to gain extra yards after he makes a catch.
I will admit after seeing all the Hopkins love that's been going around recently I have been wondering what's he really all about. At first when I watched him I was slightly underwhelmed by his lack of explosive first step but when I watched more I saw a polished route runner and pass catcher that's a physical presence on the outside and demands the attention of the oppositions best corner. At first when I checked out the FSU tape when he was against Jonathan Banks I was concerned how he would deal with the big rangy corner but multiple times he shows phenomenal ability to make the catch while under duress. He deals with Banks multiple attempts to jam him at the line of scrimmage perfectly and slips out and across the middle to make a catch. We also see another instance where Hopkins catches a quick curl route before shielding the ball and making his man miss before turning up field. He does this on numerous occasions where he puts his body in between the ball and his man.
But what's really special about Hopkins and is the thing I love watching him do is run routes and catch passes in traffic. There are two examples in particular made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. First one was against FSU where they ran a pitch perfect play action, Hopkins worked a perfect double move that looked almost identical to the one's that Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter ran against Denver last season. A perfect inside-outside move that caught Banks and the safety completely flat footed and allowed for an easy stroll in. The second was against N.C State. David Amerson(Who I love) was in press coverage against Hopkins. Hopkins pulls a hesitation type double move that leaves Amerson completely flat footed and in the dust. It was like watching someone getting their ankles broken in basketball. I literally watched it the first time got excited re-winded and then watched it again. When I got to the point of Hopkins little shimmy move I literally said ''DAYUM'' and re-watched it twice more before moving on. Also quick note. Both of these cases lead to 50+ yard TD scores.
Hopkins second remarkable skill is his ability to make a catch in traffic. He can have hands in his face and be drawing contact from the corner back and still make a fantastic grab. He perfect example of this is against LSU, Hopkins beats his man with a double move but the corner starts holding Hopkins back by tugging on his jersey. Nevertheless Hopkins manages to leap and bring down the pass. Against South Carolina in a similar situation he has another corner draped over him and the safety in close proximity he manages to make another crazy grab while under pressure. It's so much fun watching a guy like this play. You see a ball getting thrown his way and you know there's more then a 50% chance he's going to get his hands on it and bring it in for a catch.
WHO TO TAKE:
I've mulled this over for a few hours and between both you're really splitting hairs. Woods brings great play making and open field running ability to go along with his fantastic first step. Meanwhile Hopkins is a prototypical receiver who excels at the fundamentals. He's beyond a great route runner and his ability to use his physicality and excellent body control and a fantastic set of hands that at times seem to me like they have super glue on them. Listen to be brutally honest with you all if either of these guys landed on the Texans lap i'd be over the moon. To be honest Woods would provide a perfect compliment to Andre's physical game while Hopkins(And I seriously considered not saying this) seems to be to be AJ's re incarnate. I mean whenever I watched him I saw a lot of aspects that I see in AJ's game. Solid hands,great route runner, the ability to go over the middle and make the catch and then hold on after taking a hit.
I DON'T CARE JUST SO LONG AS YOU TAKE ONE OF THEM!
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Hope you guys find all this interesting. If I have any time during the week I might do another one of these on two more players.