Clemson's Hopkins drafted in late first round

HOUSTON (WACH/AP) -- Former Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins' decision to leave school a year early is paying off. The Houston Texans have selected him with the 27th overall pick in the NFL draft.

Receiver was the biggest need for the Texans who have lacked a top-tier receiver to play opposite star Andre Johnson, who turns 32 this summer.

It's just the second time Houston has drafted a receiver in the first round and the first time since Johnson was chosen third overall in 2003.

Last year, Houston drafted receivers DeVier Posey in the third round and Keshawn Martin in the fourth round. Posey contributed on offense, but tore his Achilles tendon in their playoff loss and is likely to miss a lot of time this season, and Martin worked mostly on special teams.

Some, including Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, initially questioned Hopkins move to give up his senior after a record-setting 2012 season, but he quickly rose up the draft boards in the months leading up to the draft.

When Hopkins first went public with his decision Swinney suggested that if a player isn't a lock for the first-round, they should never leave school early. However, Swinney supported Hopkins and said he will make an "outstanding profressional."

Hopkins is the first Clemson player to leave after his junior year and become a first round pick since Anthony Simmons was the 15th pick of the 1998 draft. Clemson has now had at least one player taken in the NFL draft for 11 straight years and is the 23rd first round selection in Clemson history, the first since C.J. Spiller was picked ninth in the 2010 NFL Draft

Hopkins is the first Clemson wide receiver to be chosen in the first round since Rod Gardner was picked 15th by the Washington Redskins in 2001.

Last week, some draft analysts speculated Hopkins could fall out of his projected status as a first round choice after a report surfaced linking him to a trashed Indianapolis hotel room registered to Hopkins and Rutgers wide receiver Mark Harrison at February's NFL combine. The room was reportedly littered with urine and feces in the bathroom, and garbage and half-eaten food was scattered on the bed and throughout the room.

Hopkins staunchly denied any involvement in the incident and also said Harrison had nothing to do with it. Hopkins suggested that the hotel's surveillance camera footage be reviewed to establish a timeline to back up his story.

Some hinted the embarrassing story coming out so close to the draft would cause some teams to back off choosing Hopkins so early, leading them to think he had character issues. As it turns out, the report had little to no impact, as Hopkins was selected exactly where most mock drafts predicted he would be chosen.

The explosive Hopkins is coming off one of the best seasons in Clemson history for a receiver. The Central native had 82 catches for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns. Hopkins set ACC records for touchdown receptions in a season and consecutive games with at least one touchdown catch with 10.