After Billy Price suffered an injury in 2019, Trey Hopkins stepped up and never looked back. Hopkins established himself at the center position, giving the Bengals’ offensive line a keystone to build around.
After going undrafted and working his way up from the practice squad, Hopkins has fought hard for his place in the NFL.
He earned his starting role and he is not giving it up any time soon.
Hometown: Houston, TX
Experience: five years
Late in 2019, Hopkins signed a three-year $20.4 million extension with the Bengals, and is under contract through 2022. He is set to make $4.45 million in the first year of that extension, according to Spotrac. Giving him a long-term deal really shows how much Cincinnati values him.
You have to respect Hopkins, because he fought hard to get where he is today.
After four years playing guard and tackle for the Texas Longhorns, Hopkins went undrafted and signed with the Bengals as a UDFA in 2014. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury in the preseason when it looked like he’d make the 53-man roster. He then spent most of 2015 and 2016 on the practice squad. Though he wasn’t playing in NFL games, Hopkins kept his head down and worked his tail off to reach his dream of suiting up on Sundays, and it paid off in a big way.
Hopkins got a chance to see major action for the first time in 2017 and started 12 games at guard. Then in 2018, he was moved up and down the line, starting nine games while playing center and both left and right guard.
Finally in 2019 under new offensive line coach Jim Turner, Hopkins established himself as the team’s center, starting all 16 games. Not only that, Hopkins stepped up and became the most reliable and productive player on the offensive line, as well as a leader in the group.
Hopkins’ intelligence and experience at various positions on the offensive line made him uniquely qualified as a starting center. His understanding of what is being asked of everyone else on the line will aid him in making adjustments to the blocking scheme.
Thought I’d have a look at the #bengals offensive line against the Seahawks and the one that stood out to me was Trey Hopkins #66— Sam Ainger (@sam_ainger) September 10, 2019
He wasn’t spectacular in the run game but his pass protection looked good. pic.twitter.com/umNsl2cA06
Outlook for 2020
Aided by midseason scheme changes, no position group showed more improvement throughout 2019 than the offensive line.
Hopkins was the most impressive player in the group from start to finish. The unit should continue to improve in year two with the development of young players like Michael Jordan and Fred Johnson and the return of Jonah Williams, who was injured in 2019 after being drafted in the first round.
He will play a key role in the Bengals’ success in 2020. There will be competition for other positions on the offensive line, but Hopkins will be the stabilizing force in the middle of it. Whether it is Price and free agent Xavier Su’a-Filo on either side of him or Jordan and rookie Hakeem Adeniji, Hopkins will be the leader of the unit and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
This will be particularly important as the Bengals look to break-in quarterback Joe Burrow this season. It will make a huge difference for the rookie passer if he can trust that Hopkins is going to take care of things up front.
1 minute's worth of evidence why trey hopkins was pff's best center this week. not always perfect off the snap, but the recovery on some of these plays is great.— john sheeran (@John__Sheeran) September 10, 2019
everything about the last clip is also beautiful. pic.twitter.com/kZySITQ0V3
Hopkins is a shoe-in to make the Bengals’ roster in 2020. He just signed an extension last season and will be the centerpiece (no pun intended) of the offensive line in 2020.
Roster Odds: 100%