The Texans got their man Thursday night. They wanted a wide receiver – no, they needed a wide receiver – and it was Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins who had more of what they were looking for than anyone else to begin taking some of the load off 11-year veteran Andre Johnson.

“Nothing’s too big for him,” said offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who admitted he “was holding his breath” as the Texans’ moment drew nearer and Hopkins’ name remained tantalizingly on the NFL’s draft board.

Hopkins started fast as a highly touted freshman and only got better over his three seasons at Clemson. Key metrics in the draft have become consistency and improvement at the college level, and Hopkins measured up on both counts, catching 18 touchdowns passes in his third season as a starter.

“That’s a lot,” Dennison said.

Hopkins had 82 receptions for 1,405 yards last fall to finish with a Clemson career record 3,020 and managed at least one scoring reception over his final 12 games as a Tiger. He managed more than 100 yards in a game 12 times.

The 6-1, 214-pounder was the second receiver taken in the first round, after St. Louis chose Tavon Austin in the eighth spot. Hopkins became the 27th player chosen overall. The last wideout taken by the Texans with their No. 1 pick was Andre Johnson in 2003, and Hopkins is only the second offensive player since Johnson – after Duane Brown in 2008 – to go in the opening round.

Like Johnson a decade ago, Hopkins will be expected to step in and start immediately, replacing veteran Kevin Walter, who was released over the offseason. Hopkins welcomes the challenge, calling himself “a level-headed” player who doesn’t let any challenge overwhelm him. He also said he shared his new teammate Johnson’s mentality, admitting he’d followed the Texan’s career closely.

“When the ball’s in the air,” Hopkins said, “it’s ours. (Johnson) is a guy I’ve looked up to since he’s been in the league.”