When the Titans finalized a trade for wide receiver Julio Jones, some were surprised that Atlanta received a second-round pick in exchange for the seven-time Pro Bowler.
Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins was among that group.
Hopkins, of course, was also traded for a second-round pick, with the Texans sending him to the Cardinals last year.
So what does it mean that both Hopkins and Jones couldn’t command first-round picks on the open market?
“That we’re not worth first-round picks, that the first-round picks better than us,” Hopkins said with a laugh on Wednesday, via video from Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic. “I would like to see a first-round pick who could do what Julio and myself do.”
Having said that, Hopkins kind of conceded that receivers being drafted now have good skillsets — including one candidate for last season’s offensive rookie of the year award. But Hopkins, who was the 27th overall pick in 2013, knows his own value.
“The receiver groups coming out of college are a little bit more advanced than I was back in my days, even though I only had like however many touchdowns — 15 or so touchdowns,” Hopkins said (he had 18 TDs in 13 games his final year at Clemson, so “only” is relative). “You know, you’ve got guys like Justin Jefferson who came in balling as a rookie. So there’s definitely some guys that can do what Julio and myself do.
“But I’m surprised. Shoot, Julio — I know I was only coming off a first-team All-Pro, so I kind of figured I might only go for a second-round [pick]. But I was surprised a guy like Julio would only go for a second rounder.”
It’s worth noting that contracts play into these trades, and that’s a big part of why Atlanta wasn’t able to squeeze a first-round pick out of Tennessee. The Titans agreed to take on Jones’ full contract, which includes a $15.3 million fully guaranteed base salary in 2021 and another $2 million guaranteed in 2022.
But generally, Hopkins is right that there are few receivers of his and Jones’ caliber in the league right now.