In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams used a fourth round pick to select tight end Brycen Hopkins. Hopkins was an exciting prospect as a physical tight end who was dominant after the catch. Coming out of Purdue, Hopkins ranked third in the nation in yards after the catch between 2017 and 2019. That was behind only Cee Dee Lamb and Max Borghi.
The Rams offense is one that creates a lot of YAC for their receivers. Therefore, with Gerald Everett’s contract expiring, Hopkins seemed like the perfect fit. Unfortunately for Hopkins, through one year, things haven’t gone as planned.
Hopkins was active for only five games and played just two snaps on offense last season. That was despite a midseason injury to Tyler Higbee that forced him to miss a game. Harrison Bryant, another fourth round tight end in 2020, caught 24 of 38 targets for 238 yards with the Browns last season
To make matters more troublesome, the Los Angeles Rams also just used another fourth round pick on a tight end with a higher selection than Hopkins in Jacob Harris. Could this mean that the Rams don’t see Hopkins as a solution or fit with the current offense?
It would be somewhat surprising, but it is possible that Hopkins could be cut during training camp even as just a player in his second season. Harris jumped off the tape and really impressed during OTA’s. So much so that McVay has gone out of his way to praise the work that Harris has put in.
Said McVay about Harris, “His natural range, catch radius, body control for a player his size is pretty rare. For NFL guys to stand out the way he’s done in some of these limited settings in shorts and helmets, he’s definitely made a positive impression.”
That doesn’t bode well for someone like Hopkins. Yes, Harris will have to make the adjustment to not only the NFL, but also the tight end position. However, if he keeps impressing like he has been, it won’t be long before he’s seeing the field regularly.
It’s also worth noting that on the Flying Coach podcast, McVay ran through the tight ends on the roster and didn’t even mention Brycen Hopkins.
Said McVay, “We’ve added a lot of guys to the mix this offseason that I think is to be determined … You got a guy who has played a lot of good football for us at the tight end position at a really high level in Tyler Higbee, Johnny Mundt, Jacob Harris…”
When a head coach mentions the guy that was just drafted and not the player that was drafted from the same position a year ago, that doesn’t bode well.
This isn’t to say Hopkins’ time with the Los Angeles Rams is over. However, as mentioned above, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Hopkins cut in training camp. The Rams have Tyler Higbee signed through the 2023 season and they like what they have in veteran Johnny Mundt. Harris has impressed, giving the Rams a top three for their tight ends. Lastly, Kendall Blanton has spent a few years in the Rams system.
Despite being a fourth round pick and in year two, Hopkins will likely be battling for a roster spot.
It typically takes time for tight ends to transition to the NFL. That doesn’t even take into account that last season was a very different offseason. Rookies were unable to learn the offensive system on the field and instead had meetings over zoom. This likely didn’t help Hopkins’ development process and is a reason why the team felt the need to draft another tight end in the fourth round.
It’s hard to say exactly what happened to Brycen Hopkins. It’s not quite time to count him out, but his seat on the roster is certainly getting warm. The Rams kept four tight ends on the roster last season, but that was after keeping just three the year before. The team has since added a plethora of talent at the wide receiver position as well. This means that roster spots will be difficult to come by during training camp.
Hopkins is an exciting young talent, but if he’s unable to show signs of development soon, his time with the Rams might come to an end sooner rather than later.