Tavon Austin and DeAndre Hopkins were both drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, with Austin going eighth overall to the St. Louis Rams and Hopkins going 27th overall to the Houston Texans. Both have been heavily involved in the Rookie of the Year discussion, but I’d say Hopkins has a better chance of winning the award, and he’ll prove that he deserves it more than Austin this Sunday at noon on FOX.
Hopkins and Austin have actually faced each other once before in the 2010 Orange Bowl. Austin won that matchup, snagging 11 catches for 123 yards and four touchdowns. Hopkins had 10 receptions for 107 yards and one touchdown. But, Austin was on a significantly better team (West Virginia) than Hopkins (Clemson) at the time, and had a quarterback (Geno Smith) that was farther along in his career progression than Hopkins’ QB (Tahj Boyd). The Mountaineers won that game 70-33.
Things are quite different now both for the two receivers and for their former college teams. Clemson has a puncher’s chance to win the NCAA National Championship, and West Virginia will be lucky to win the Big XII. Hopkins is also performing better than Austin, with more yards per catch (13.3 to Austin’s 6.8) and more yards overall (293 to Austin’s 156), and he has done it with one fewer reception (22 to Austin’s 23).
The only statistical category that Austin beats Hopkins in is touchdown receptions, and that is only because Matt Schaub is throwing fewer touchdowns in general than Sam Bradford. I see the matchup going to Hopkins and the game going to the Texans.
My predictions: Hopkins has seven receptions for over 90 yards and a touchdown reception. Bradford struggles in this game, causing Austin to struggle. Austin only catches five passes for just under 50 yards and no touchdowns, and the Texans beat the Rams 24-10.