The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t had a lot of good fortune drafting offensive linemen in recent years.
They’ve spent first round picks on guys like Cedric Ogbuehi and Billy Price, only to see them relegated to lesser roles (or worse). Second round pick Jake Fisher didn’t work out either. Jonah Williams may the one to break the streak, but he’s struggled at times as well.
And then there’s center Trey Hopkins, an undrafted free agent back in 2014 who fought and clawed his way into a starting role. Somehow, he only played in one game his first three years in Cincinnati. Now he’s the best lineman on the team.
Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL late last season, Week 17 against the Baltimore Ravens. That is now putting the start to his 2021 season in jeopardy. His presence is critical to a line that wants to take a big step forward with new additions Jackson Carman and Riley Reiff and learn how to play as a unit under new/old o-line coach Frank Pollack.
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Experience: eight years
After a stellar start to the year, Hopkins was awarded a 3-year, $20,400,000 contract extension near the end of the 2019 season. He is due to earn $4,300,000 in base salary this year.
Hopkins is a solid starting center in the NFL. However, he played right tackle and left guard for the Longhorns. He helped power strong rushing attacks in Texas and earned first-team All Big 12 honors his senior year.
As mentioned earlier, his ascent to the starting center position on the Bengals was not easy. He was signed as a college free agent in May of 2014, only to be placed on injured research three months later. He was then released by the team in September of 2015 but retained on the practice squad. Hopkins would be cut again on September 3, 2016 and then re-signed two days later, only to be released again on September 15 and signed to the practice squad. He would be promoted to the active roster on December 31, 2016.
Hopkins finally earned a real chance to demonstrate his talent in 2017, when he started 12 games at right guard. It was only in 2018 that he was moved to center, starting six games. Finally, in 2019, he cemented his place on the line, starting all 16 games at center, and earned the aforementioned extension.
Outlook for 2021
Once healthy, Hopkins will be a big part of the Bengals’ o-line facelift. He is the QB of the line and the most experienced and talented member. We won’t really know how improved the line is until he gets out there. Fortunately, he seems to be on track.
99.5%. Hopkins just signed a new deal a year and a half ago. He is the most reliable member of a line that is lacking in reliability. Unless he has a disastrous setback to his recovery and is forced to retire, he will be on the team.