Shortly after the conclusion of the 2014 NFL Draft, the second Hokies’ Hopkins brother, Derrick "Skip" Hopkins went to Twitter to announce that he had agreed to terms with the Baltimore Ravens to join their club as an undrafted free agent.
I'm happy to say I'M A RAVEN!!!! #GodbetheGlory— Derrick Hopkins (@hokies98) May 10, 2014
Skip is a one-gap defensive lineman with good "get-off" and above-average hands who projects at the next level as a 3-technique defensive tackle, aligning on the outside shoulder of the opposing guard. He played a lot of 1-technique for Coach Bud Foster in the LPD, and though he could conceivably play there or even at a true zero-technique nose tackle, it’s highly unlikely he would ever do so, as he weighs only 306 lbs. I personally think Hopkins fits best in a 4-3 scheme; however, Baltimore notoriously runs a 3-4. Given that it’s unlikely that they were his only team option, Hopkins chose to go there, so he obviously feels they are his best shot. That, or he really likes purple.
Not The Best Prospect On Paper
Though he caused fits for plenty of opposing quarterbacks and had a productive career in Blacksburg, it’s not entirely surprising that Hopkins failed to hear his name called during the draft. At 6’0", he lacks ideal size for a NFL defensive tackle and doesn’t possess an "outstanding" trait that would cause teams to overlook his height. He was unable to complete his pro day workout, as after he posted a 5.06 40-yard dash time in his first attempt, he pulled a hamstring on his second.
Hopkins will look to have greater success than his older brother, fellow defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins, who took part in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ mini-camp after going undrafted in 2013 and found himself a camp casualty, never making an NFL roster. He has since reportedly, started his own computer repair business in his native Richmond, VA area.
Who Would Hopkins Be Playing Alongside? Competing With?
As any UDFA Hopkins has quite an uphill battle to earn a roster spot. The Ravens are obviously best-known for their defense and, as most teams, have a mix of productive established veterans and young unknowns in place along their defensive front, including NT’s Haloti Ngata (6-4, 340) and Terrence "Mount" Cody (6-4, 340), DT’s Brandon Williams (6-1, 335) and Cody Larsen (6-4, 300), and DE’s Chris Canty (6-7, 317), Deangelo Tyson (6-2, 310), and Kapron Lewis-Moore (6-4, 298).
How Should Baltimore Best Utilize Him
Hopkins is certainly not a rush DE, and if the Ravens asked him to bulk up to 340 and play NT, he would look like a bowling ball. His most likely fit would be at 3-technique DT, likely used situationally or in a sub package. However, the Ravens used their 2nd round draft pick on explosive Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan (6-2, 299), who projects at the same DT position. Perhaps Hopkins is a low-risk insurance policy for the Ravens if the bottom falls out with Jernigan, whose combine drug test was flagged as positive after it was revealed his sample was diluted. In some ways, Hopkins could be seen as a "poor man’s" Jernigan; however, Jernigan is two inches taller, more explosive than Hopkins, and was reportedly more consistent.
Will Hopkins FIt In Baltimore?
Could Hopkins make the Ravens' 53 man roster? It'll be an uphill climb. A more likely scenario would be a year on the practice squad before contributing as a reserve next year. Skip certainly has potential, he just has to acclimate to going up against the world's best offensive linemen at NFL speed while at the same time figuring out a way to use a combination of his best attributes and sound technique to overcome his lack of height.