Transaction analysis: DeAndre Hopkins goes pro and what it means for 2013 … and Clemson-Ohio State are not talking about a 2017 date

NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins announced he is going pro Thursday, an expected move, and a smart move for Hopkins.

Hopkins is safely in the second round as the fifth-rated receiver in the 2013 draft class according to NFLDraftscout.com, and I think he has a chance to sneak into the late first round.

Former South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery went in the second round – 45th overall – last year and earned a $1.74 million signing bonus. (Bonuses are typically the only guaranteed money in the NFL.) That’s life-changing money. It makes sense for Hopkins.

Dabo Swinney tells his players they should only leave early if they are first-round locks, but to me a second-round grade is enough motivation for most juniors to depart. A second-round grade still means a seven-figure signing bonus under the NFL’s new rookie-salary-depressing-slotting system, and leaving as a junior means being a year closer to free agency.

There’s a big dropoff to the third round. Seattle QB and Tajh Boyd comparable Russell Wilson received a $619,000 signing bonus last season as a third-round pick and that’s probably the type of money Boyd would have been looking at.

So what does this mean for Clemson?

Clemson loses one of its all-time best receivers, a player who is coming off a 85-catch, 1,405-yard and 18-touchdown season. Those are all program records. It’s a big loss. But it’s also the one place Clemson could absorb a departure.

Why Clemson’s offense will be OK:

*I fully expect Sammy Watkins to have a bounce-back year in 2013. Assuming he’s healthy from the get-go, he should have a razor-sharp focus and he’ll be eligible for the NFL Draft. If he’s like the player he was in 2011, Clemson will again have a difference-maker at WR. Watkins is more explosive, faster, stronger and owns similar hands to Watkins. He could be an early first round pick in 2014 if everything fits right.

The bad news for Clemson is Nuk Hopkins is NFL bound, the good news is I suspect we’ll see Sammy Watkins look more like his 2011 self in 2013

*Hopkins’ departure will give more reps to rising juniors like Martavis Bryant, Charone Peake and Adam Humprhies, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about freshman receiver Germone Hopper’s work this season on the practice fields. Clemson is loaded with WR talent and this gives one or more of those players a chance to step up and emerge as a big-time player.

*There was one area where Hopkins struggled: he had no interest in blocking and didn’t always give great effort when he wasn’t a primary or secondary target.

In short, with Boyd and Chad Morris back along with this stable of receivers I still expect the offense to operate at a high level in 2013.

In fact of these up in-the-air assets, I’d rank Boyd No. 1, Morris No. 2, and Hopkins No. 3 in their level of importance. Two out of three, the top two out of three, isn’t a bad offseason so far for Clemson.

The bigger question is whether the defensive improvement against LSU is for real and can be sustained. I certainly think the group has nowhere to go but up in 2013, but to be a title contender the Clemson defense will have to be more than improved, it will have to be effective.

CLEMSON AND OHIO STATE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT A 2017 DATE

There was a rumor that Clemson and Ohio State would open the 2017 season playing  in Nashville. That would be pretty epic. But it’s not the case, Clemson assistant AD Kyle Young told me tonight.

Young said “he’d love” to play Ohio State but not on a neutral field. He’d have to have a home-and-home arrangement, but there have been no serious talks.

Still, this is not a complete pipedream. Young has been aggressive scheduling non-conference opponents and with the ACC reverting back to an eight-game league schedule, Clemson will again be looking for at least one attractive pre-confernece play non-conference opponent per season.

Young said if you see Urban Meyer around to let him know Clemson is interested.

4 thoughts on “Transaction analysis: DeAndre Hopkins goes pro and what it means for 2013 … and Clemson-Ohio State are not talking about a 2017 date

  1. Just out of curiosity, why is Young against a neutral field game with Ohio State? Or any school for that matter? I understand that a home-and-home is clearly the preferable option but neutral sites should still be considered. Clemson has played Auburn and Alabama in recent memory in neutral site games. I enjoyed both games in person. It provides a bowl-like atmosphere and gives fans a chance to interact with the opposing team’s fans in a much different way than a home game would.

    Is it as simple as two years of home ticket sales plus an away game check is worth more than one year splitting gate revenue 50/50?

  2. Matt,

    Clemson prefers the home-and-home option mostly for ticket revenue reasons as you suggested. But Clemson also feels an obligation to have at least seven home games every year to support local hotels and restaurants, etc.

    I would not completely rule out the idea of playing Ohio State in a home-and-home, as Clemson will continue to schedule aggressively, but there is nothing imminent and it doesn’t even sound like there have been preliminary talks.

  3. “But Clemson also feels an obligation to have at least seven home games every year to support local hotels and restaurants, etc.”

    That is very noble of Clemson. But as someone who goes to USC games, I’ll bet the hotels are overcharging CU fans.

    When USC was in the depths of the losing streak and mired in mediocrity not too many years ago, one could get a downtown hotel for under $100. Now? $300+ So I don’t stay overnight anymore. So Clemson should not be so quick to schedule for the benefit of businesses that are doing that to loyal fans.

    • Interesting take. I think every small college town does jack up rates for football weekends, which may not seem fair, but they probably also depend on such revenues to be in the black at the end of the year.

      There must be enough out-of-town, deep-pocketed alumni to make it work. (Either that or no on is employing their Priceline negotiators)

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