The Bengals have a huge void at the left tackle position as Andrew Whitworth decided to bolt for the Los Angeles Rams. 2015 first-rounder Cedric Ogbuehi is expected to step in as the starter at left tackle for the Bengals’ offensive line. Although the “Ced Era” could be under way, Trey Hopkins could prove to be more than a formidable foe. After reviewing film of Hopkins at left tackle, I truly believe he could be a darkhorse starter at left tackle for the Bengals next season.
Trey Hopkins was rated by Rivals as a four-star prospect and the #1 overall offensive guard in high school. In college, Hopkins played guard and tackle. In 2012, Hopkins ranked 3rd overall in the nation for the Longhorns allowing 4.1 tackles-for-loss-per-game and 1.23 sacks-per-game. Even after winning AP and All-Pro honors at Texas, Hopkins wasn’t invited to the 2014 NFL Draft Combine and went undrafted. Hopkins signed with the Bengals as an undrafted college free agent back in 2014.
At his Pro Day, Hopkins said, “I want people to know I play all positions on the offensive line. I can snap, play tackle in games. Guard is where I played the most, but I’m comfortable doing any of them.”
It didn’t take long for Hopkins to capture the attention of offensive line coach Paul Alexander and Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham with his athleticism. “I saw a very good athlete who just needed to refine his skills,” Alexander said. “He’s a strong kid. Athletic. I’m not sure why he wasn’t drafted his senior year.” Lapham said. Bleacher Report Draft Analyst Matt Miller said that Hopkins, “Looks like a future starter.”Hopkins even got some run with the first-team offense in training camp in 2014. Although Hopkins impressed, his rookie season was cut short due to a broken fibula.
Hopkins has seen time at left/right guard and left tackle during his time with the Bengals. During the 2016 preseason, Hopkins saw significant time at left tackle with the first and second units against the Jaguars and Lions. Hopkins was extremely effective in pass protection against Dante Fowler and in the run game versus Jacksonville. He also held his own against a potent Detroit Lions defensive line. I was literally blown away by how well Hopkins played in both games while reviewing the film.
During the regular season finale versus Baltimore, Hopkins was promoted from the practice squad to the active Bengals’ roster. He played the majority of the time at left guard, but also saw time at left tackle at the end of the game. Hopkins was impressive at both positions and even pancaked Ravens’ defensive tackle Brandon Williams during a drive.
Geoff Hobson has stated that Hopkins is expected to compete with Christian Westerman and Alex Redmond to start at right guard, but I think he should and will get a serious look at left tackle. If Ogbuehi continues to struggle, Hopkins could rise to the occasion as a darkhorse candidate and a quality starter at left tackle.