WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The wait is over for Purdue linebacker Markus Bailey. He was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals with the first pick in the seventh round, the 215th pick overall.
He joins Brycen Hopkins, Purdue's standout tight end, who was chosen by the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. He was the 136th player taken, and the ninth tight end overall.
Bailey, who's had ACL surgeries on both knees, could be a steal, according the draft expert and former scout Daniel Jeremiah.
"This could be a home run if he can stay healthy,'' he said. "When you watch his tape, you can see that he's a player. Markus Bailey's tape is second-round quality tape. This is a smart risk at this point in the NFL draft''
Hopkins will get to play for Rams coach Sean McVey, an offensive genius considered one of the best in the business. He also loves to utilize the tight end.
The Rams played in the Super Bowl two years ago, but were 9-7 in 2019. Tyler Higbee was their starter, and he had 69 catches for 734 and three touchdowns. Backup tight end Gerald Everett had 37 catches. Both current Rams tight ends are still under contract for the 2020 season.
Hopkins was the 10th-ranked tight end in the draft, according to NFL.com. His talent level is even higher than that — he ran a 4.66 40-yard dash in the NFL Combine in February, but there were some concerns with him about dropped passes. He had seven drops this year.
EPSN analyst Louis Riddick, a former NFL general manager, loved the pick by the Rams and thinks Hopkins will be a steal.
"He can do everything that you need a pass-catching tight end to do,'' Riddick said. "He's a very good athlete, very good play speed and body control. He's the kind of guy who can get off the line of scrimmage very quickly. He's a very good route runner, very good explosion at the move point and he can run after the catch.''
Riddick said if Hopkins can clean up those drops, he could be a star.
"The one thing he does, he will take his eye off the football and look for where he's trying to run before he secures the catch, and that's what led to seven drops in 2019, which was third-most among tight ends. If Sean McVey can get that corrected, he will have stolen himself a very good down-the-field threat for (quarterback) Jared Goff here in the fourth round.
"This young man has a lot of skill, and he should make a lot of big plays provided he can secure the football.
When the time comes that Hopkins can work out with the Rams in person, he will have a familiar face there in Los Angeles. The Rams's new strength and conditioning coach is Justin Lovett, who was hired in March after three seasons at Purdue.
LIVE BLOG SATURDAY
The third and final day of the 2020 NFL Draft is underway, starting at Noon ET on Saturday and a few Purdue players should get picked today, most notably linebacker Markus Bailey and tight end Brycen Hopkins.
We'll keep you updated on what's going on with the draft, and what's up with Bailey and Hopkins as they wait for good news.
Purdue is hoping to have someone drafted today, because they didn't have anyone go in the 2019 draft, which snapped a streak of 21 consecutive years with a Purdue player drafted.
LIVE BLOG: Saturday's action in the NFL Draft.
- 5:30 p.m. ET — Purdue linebacker Markus Bailey has been drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. He was the first pick in the seventh round.
- 4:30 p.m. ET — We're up to 17 linebackers being drafted now, and still no Markus Bailey, which is really surprising. He's the 14th-ranked linebacker according to the NFL.com grades, and all 13 guys ahead of him are gone. So are the next four guys behind him.
- 3:30 p.m. ET — The fifth round is now complete. Two rounds to go.
- 3 p.m. ET — Markus Bailey was cleared after his ACL surgery and he looked good in a Combine-style workout video that his agent sent to all teams a few weeks ago. But he might really be one of those guys who missed out on being able to meet with teams face-to-face. We're just about to the end of the fifth round right now, and Bailey is still available.
- 2:30 p.m. ET — We are into the fifth round now. There were four linebackers taken in the fourth round, so that's 14 total now. Bailey, ranked No. 14, is still waiting. Two players ranked below him on NFL.com grades have already been picked.
- 2 p.m. — The concensus around the league is that the Rams' pick of Brycen Hopkins was a good one. He was one of six Big Ten players taken in the fourth round.
- 1:45 p.m. ET — Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins selected in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Rams. (see above)
- 1:30 p.m. ET — It's a really quiet day for linebackers so far. With the first pick on Saturday, Cincinnati took of Akeem Davis-Gaither of Appalachian State, but now we're 25 picks in on the day and no other LB has been scooped up. Three tight ends have been take so far on Saturday, but still no Hopkins. Harrison Bryant (Florida Atlantic), Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri) and Colby Parkinson (Stanford).
- 1 p.m. ET — Bailey was the 14th-ranked linebacker in the NFL.com grading projections. Four linebackers were taken in the first round on Thursday, and six more went on Friday in rounds 2 and 3. Bailey is coming off an ACL injury, so we'll see how that impacts his draft status.
- 12:30 p.m. ET — Hopkins was the 10th-ranked tight end in the draft according to NFL.com. Five of the guys ahead of his went on Friday — no one behind him did — and the first one went Saturday in Round 4 when the Cleveland Browns took Harrison Bryant of Florida Atlantic with the ninth pick in the fourth round. Bryant was the Mackey Award winning as the best tight end in college football in 2019
- Noon ET: There were 106 players drafted in the first three rounds, and Bailey and Hopkins were hoping to go on Day 2, but it didn't happen. So now they're back on their respective couches on Saturday, waiting see what happens.
What to remember about Brycen Hopkins
Hopkins has made a name for himself slowly but surely during his time at Purdue. He went from 10 catches as a freshman to 25 as a sophomore to 34 as a junior.
A full-time starter for the first time as a senior, Hopkins earned some All-American honors and was voted the Big Ten’s Tight End of the Year. He recorded 61 receptions for 830 yards and seven touchdowns. His reception and yardage totals were the most by a Boilermakers tight end since Dustin Keller had 68 receptions for 881 yards in 2007.
What to remember about Markus Bailey
Bailey was ready for a huge year for the Boilermakers but all those dreams ended early with a torn ACL. He's worked hard to be as close to 100 percent as possible prior to the draft.
“My training and, more importantly, my rehab have both gone extremely well throughout this pre-draft process," Bailey told Sports Illustrated Purdue in a statement. "Starting with my athletic trainers at Purdue, everyone who has worked with me during my recovery has contributed to getting me ready to play football again, especially the physical therapists at the Fischer Institute."
Related Stories on Purdue Football
- FAMILY AFFAIR FOR HOPKINS: Brycen Hopkins was raised in a football family, and he's ready to make his own dreams come true. CLICK HERE
- BAILEY CLEARED FROM ACL SURGERY: Three weeks ahead of the NFL Draft, linebacker Markus Bailey shows off his skills. CLICK HERE