Rivalries between NFL players have become kind of muted over the years, which is kind of odd in the age of social media. Everyone wants to avoid getting dunked on or being bulletin board material, even though that’s probably not an actual thing internally and more for fans, but as we saw with the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans in Week 1, some talk and hype can be fun.
That leads me to the underrated rivalry between Houston Texas receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The two have put on amazing battles since Ramsey has come into the league and had their comments back and forth pre- and post-game, however it’s never devolved into anything disrespectful.
“He’s my favorite corner to play against. He’s the only corner in the NFL that actually follows me everywhere I go, so you’ve got to respect that,” Hopkins said, via Mark Berman of FOX 26. “No matter where I line up he’s right there in front of me. A lot of guys claim they’re No. 1 DBs, but not a lot of guys can do that.”
Ramsey’s first season in the NFL was 2016, when the Jaguars ended the season 5-11 and his first game against Hopkins he held him to five receptions for 48 yards and no touchdowns. It was one of the games where you knew Ramsey was going to be a special player. Their second meeting went more in favor of Hopkins, with eight receptions for 87 yards, including a key third-down reception and a defensive interference penalty that helped Houston hold on to win 21-20.
“He had a 99 overall rating on Madden, so that’s damn near un-guardable on Madden, right? It’s pretty much like that in real life, too. It’s tough,” Ramsey said about the match up with Hopkins. “It’s one of the toughest battles I have each year, year-in year-out. We always have pretty good battles. Sometimes I hold him to less yardage, whatever it may be. But I know that he’s a tough guy to go out there and guard play-in and play-out or as much as I get the opportunity to guard him. So yeah, I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Of all their meetings, Hopkins has only really had the clear win one time in my opinion, the season finale in 2018. Hopkins finished the game with 12 receptions for 147 yards as Houston went on to dominate in a 20-3 win that wasn’t even that close.
Most of their meetings I would qualify as being a tie, and Hopkins is always going to make some ridiculous plays even in great coverage, just like the one-handed grab in the image atop this article. He’s arguably the best receiver in the game, which makes it all the better he’s got a friendly rivalry going with the best corner in the game.