More than two months since being traded from the Houston Texans, receiver DeAndre Hopkins let his new fans know what to expect when he takes the field for the first time as an Arizona Cardinal: He's the best receiver in the NFL.
"I definitely think I'm the best," Hopkins said Thursday on the Jalen & Jacoby Show, per ESPN's Josh Weinfuss. "I know I'm the best. Mike's my boy. I love [Saints wide receiver] Michael [Thomas] ... but he knows if I had Drew Brees my whole career what these numbers would be. [Falcons wide receiver] Julio Jones knows if I had Matt Ryan my whole career. That's my boy. I trained with Julio, too. He knows what these numbers would be."
From 2013 to 2016, Hopkins never missed a game, but his production was inconsistent. He made the Pro Bowl in his third season in 2015, notching 1,521 receiving yards an 11 touchdowns, but followed that up with a relatively disappointing 2016 season in which he had 954 yards and four scores.
Deshaun Watson arrived in 2017 and has easily been the best quarterback Hopkins has played with, but he started only six games as a rookie after injuring his knee. In all, the Texans featured 10 different starting quarterbacks from 2013 to 2017: Brock Osweiler (14 starts), Ryan Fitzpatrick (12), Case Keenum (10), Tom Savage (nine), Brian Hoyer (nine), Matt Schaub (eight), Ryan Mallett (six), Watson (six), T.J. Yates (five) and Brandon Weeden (one).
That level of turmoil at quarterback is vastly different compared to the quarterback stability that the receivers Hopkins mentioned—Michael Thomas and Julio Jones—have enjoyed.
"Those guys are definitely blessed to be in a position where, their whole career, they had a Pro Bowl quarterback—quarterback that they spent multiple seasons with. But I don't complain. I don't make excuses. I go out there and work."
Over the past two seasons, when Watson made 31 starts, Hopkins caught a combined 219 passes for 2,737 yards and 18 touchdowns. He's looking forward to developing a rapport with second-year quarterback Kyler Murray, last year's AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
"Going into this situation with a guy, a young quarterback, that I know is gonna be my quarterback for the future, is great," Hopkins said. "We're able to build a chemistry, and hopefully, I'm able to play more than three seasons with a quarterback. I don't think I've done that yet. So, I'm excited just to see how I'll be able to play with a consistent quarterback."
Last season, Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals in receptions (75) and yards (804), and tied for the lead with four touchdown catches. Second-year wideout Christian Kirk had 68 catches for 709 yards and three touchdowns.
"We have other great receivers out there—Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald and a lot of other guys out there," Hopkins said. "But I definitely see myself having one of my more productive seasons."