Notre Dame football: How the DeAndre Hopkins trade effects Will Fuller

The Houston Texans traded away superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a deal that will impact former Notre Dame star wide receiver Will Fuller.

The Houston Texans shocked the sports world today when they traded away superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. The deal will undoubtedly have an impact on former Notre Dame star wideout Will Fuller.

DeAndre Hopkins was drafted by the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2013 draft with the 27th overall selection out of Clemson University. Since that time, Hopkins has gone on to be one of the most prolific wide receivers in the National Football League.

The move has been widely criticized by most NFL experts and fans alike, as Houston general manager Bill O’Brien traded away one of the best wide receivers in the league and a fourth-round pick in the upcoming draft for an aging running back who has had one good season in the past five years, a second-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick next season.

The return is minimal for a player of the caliber of Hopkins and pales in comparison to the return that the New York Giants received last year when they traded away superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns and received a former first-round pick and starting safety Jabrill Peppers (who is still on a team-friendly rookie contract), a first-round draft pick (17th overall that the Giants used to select Dexter Lawrence) and a third-round pick (95th overall used to select Oshane Ximines).

O’Brien is certain to get crushed by fans and experts alike for the pitiful return he received for Hopkins, especially since the Texans now have very little high-end draft capital left to replace Hopkins or upgrade the team over the next two years. They traded away their 2020 and 2021 first-round picks and a 2021-second round pick for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills last season.

With Hopkins out of the picture at wide receiver for the Texans, former Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller is set to assume the role of the number one receiver for the Texans and star quarterback Deshaun Watson next season, with Kenny Stills serving as the number two receiver.

The Texans drafted Fuller in the first round of the 2016 draft with the 21st overall selection. While he has certainly shown flashes of brilliance during his four-year career in the NFL, Fuller has struggled to remain on the field, having never played more than 14 games in a season, while averaging just 10.5 games played per season.

In 42 career games, Fuller has managed 156 receptions for 2,231 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. If those numbers were extrapolated out over a full 16-game season, they would translate to 59 receptions for 850 receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns.

While those numbers are solid, they are not exactly those of a team’s number one receiver in the league and fall far short of the 92 receptions for 1,251 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns that DeAndre Hopkins has averaged over his seven-year career.

The Texans will need Fuller to mitigate his injury risk if they hope to have him step into the large void left by trading away Hopkins. Hopkins missed a total of two games in seven years, a far cry from the 22 that Fuller has missed in just four years in the league.

If Fuller can remain healthy, there is no doubt that the former Notre Dame standout can produce for Houston, as he has the talent and athleticism to break it down the sidelines for a big touchdown any time he touches the ball. With Hopkins no longer there as the number one receiver Will Fuller will undoubtedly receive a lion share of his targets if healthy.

Bill O’Brien and the Texans will need Fuller to remain healthy and step into the role vacated by Hopkins. That is asking a lot from a player who has not shown the ability to remain on the field on a regular basis during any season of his professional career.

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If Fuller is unable to remain healthy and effectively fill the void left behind by the departure of Hopkins, it could result in O’Brien losing his job, as the spotlight will shine brightly upon the general manager for trading one of the most iconic players in franchise history for such a meager return.

 

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