College: Florida State
Birthday: September 29, 1980
Strengths: Chris Hope is a smart defensive back who essentially plays the role of quarterback on the Seminole defense. A three-year starter who’s logged significant playing time all four years, Hope combines nice size with good speed (4.45-ish/40), wonderful range and tremendous instincts.
An Academic All-American last year, Hope can run man-to-man coverage on any wide receiver in the country and has practiced the last four years against one of the nation’s best offenses: his own.
Areas of concern: Hope’s not afraid to tackle, in fact, he racked up 83 last year and is often Florida State’s last line of defense, but he’s not powerful and can flat disappear in the run game. He’s much more comfortable in deep coverage taking on wide receivers more his size than he is pressuring a bigger running back at the line of scrimmage. If he were a strong safety, it’d be a bigger concern, but as a free safety, he can somewhat get away with it.
Is he sponge-worthy?: Not likely. Scouts complain that Hope doesn’t make enough big plays and that’s he often a pedestrian in the run game, but those critiques might be a bit unfair.
For starters, Florida State’s defensive scheme has Hope playing the role of a roving, centerfielder that oft-times takes him away from the action. And if you look at the kid’s numbers, his best games have been against top opponents — in other words, Hope steps up when games mean the most. So while his numbers don’t jump out at you, know that Chris Hope is a big-time college football player who projects to be a solid, if unspectacular, pro.
Right now, Hope is likely a late first-to-mid-second round pick, perhaps higher if OU’s Roy Williams stays in school. But the Texans likely won’t use any of their first three or four picks on a safety, especially a free safety, not when the draft figures to be deep in front seven help.