Trey Hopkins has been a great success story for the Bengals so far. He was an undrafted free agent in 2014, but worked his way into being the starting right guard last season after it seemed like the position was Andre Smith’s for the taking. There has been a lot of change since that time, though. Bill Lazor has officially taken over the offense and Frank Pollack has come over from Dallas to coach the offensive line.
Will Hopkins be able to maintain his starting role in 2018? It’s not a given as he’s just one-third of the competition for that spot.
Weight: 310 pounds
Hometown: Houston, TX
Experience: Entering his fifth year
Hopkins is entering the final season of his three-year deal. He is set to make $555,000 in 2018 while counting for that same amount against the cap, according to Over the Cap. Hopkins will be an unrestricted free agent following this season.
After joining the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Texas, Hopkins was eventually placed on injured reserve in his rookie season. He then entered the next two seasons on the practice squad before being activated late in the 2016 season.
Hopkins obviously spent his time wisely as he developed into a pretty serviceable player. He managed to take the starting right guard spot last year, but he had an injury early in the season that caused him to miss three games.
His grade from Pro Football Focus leaves plenty to be desired at a 48.4 overall, which ranked him as the 41st guard last year. He did show promise though. Against the Steelers in Week 14, PFF gave him an 81.9 overall. So there is obviously some hope that with more development, Hopkins can take the next step. That development is taking the form of fresh training methods from his new offensive line coach in Pollack.
“It’s a lot different,” Trey Hopkins told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com of the way Pollack does things compared to Alexander. “There’s not much standing around. It’s, ‘Let’s get out there, get to work and when we’re in the classroom we’ll talk about it.’ It’s about the physical reps and your mind has to be right…He’ll make a point to the group and it’s on to the next rep.”
Who knows what kind of player he will be in 2018 with Pollack’s guidance.
The biggest thing working in Hopkins’ favor is his versatility. He started at guard last season, but the past two offseasons he has also seen work at tackle and even center. That kind of versatility will keep you on a roster. Hopkins’ length also makes him a pretty useful Swiss army knife (34 7/8” arms) as most other emergency tackles are just guards with short arms.
More important for Hopkins during this offseason is to hold off the competition for the starting right guard position. Christian Westerman and Alex Redmond are gunning for that spot as it seems to be the most attainable along the line going into the season.
Westerman and Redmond are looking to capitalize after finishing the season strong at left guard, and they are also hoping a fresh start means an equal opportunity to unseat Hopkins. Even if one of them does manage to take Hopkins’ spot, it is hard to imagine a scenario where the Bengals drop Hopkins completely off the roster. His versatility alone should get get him on the 53-man roster.
“Everyone learns when they come in this league you only dress seven guys on gameday usually so you have to play multiple spots because you have to back up five positions,” Pollack said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Sometimes your backup center might be one of them starting guards. You have to play more than one spot and you have to crosstrain. I have heard horror stories of guys losing four or five centers. And they are down to that sixth center and it’s tough sledding. You can never have enough so you are always training and moving guys around.”
Roster odds: 75 percent.