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Rookie TE Brycen Hopkins always working to get better on the field

It was the refrain caroming around Brycen Hopkins NFL Draft preparations.

And by the time he became a Day Three selection of the Los Angeles Rams, Hopkins had heard enough about his unreliable hands.

"Man! I don't want to come up with excuses," the former Purdue tight end told us when we asked how sick he was of being asked about the drops.

"They don't like to give me any credibility for the catches, for any of the good catches I had. It's all about drops. It's something I'm working on. It's all concentration. It's not like I don't have hands. I've shown everybody that I can catch. It's just something I will be working on; I will get better at."

Ted Monago ran point on evaluating the Big Ten Tight End of the Year and offered this statistical context.

"It's kind of like missed tackles with defensive players," the Rams assistant director of college scouting said. "His drops went from 4 to 7, but his targets went from 54 in 2018 to 91 in 2019… and his receptions went up (from 34 to 61)."

"We tend to nitpick those things as scouts," Monago added.

According to Rams general manager Les Snead, when you're the top-targeted player on your team, it's a healthy sign the offensive coordinator – and more importantly, the quarterback – trust you. Perhaps that's why 40 of his receptions went for first-downs.

"Sometimes you let the quarterback tell you," the Rams general manager said of the reputation Hopkins had carved out in West Lafayette.

Hopkins spent five campaigns at Purdue and is 23-years old, but relatively young in football seasons, having started his competitive career as a junior in high school. His father, Brad, was an All-Pro left tackle and lined up for the Titans against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Going into the 2020 Draft, he was position coach Wes Phillips' "number one player" and the most fun tight end to watch according to Pro Football Focus.

Nonetheless, Snead described adding to the tight end room as a luxury, and as a result, the Rams felt comfortable trading down in the fourth round, acquiring two additional seventh-round picks from Houston in the process. That would later enable them to select kicker Sam Sloman and their only offensive lineman of the 2020 Draft, Tremayne Anchrum.

Fortunately, their preferred tight end was still on the board 10 picks later when Los Angeles was back on the clock. And they're hoping the move from 126 to 136 overall is remembered as the most significant "drop" of Hopkins' career as a Ram.

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