No. 9 Brad Hopkins
It is hard to quantify players who played on the offensive line, but the Illinois football program had numerous successful offensive linemen in the NFL. One of those offensive linemen was Brad Hopkins.
Coming out of Moline High School in Illinois, Hopkins quickly worked his way up the depth chart. He would end up starting for the Illini by his sophomore year. That season, Hopkins would make the All-Big Ten team. He would also earn All-American honors as a senior.
The development of Hopkins was impressive, and this had the NFL watching the talented tackle. The Houston Oilers took a liking to Hopkins and would select him No. 13 overall in the 1993 NFL Draft.
I think longevity is one of the most important things for an offensive lineman. I look at that as a stat. Hopkins would play 13 years in the NFL and would start 188 out of the 194 games that he was available to play. That comes out to 14.4 starts per season, which is incredible for any position, let alone a left tackle.
Hopkins would go on to make two Pro Bowl appearances, one in 2000 and the other in 2003. He would also play every season with the same franchise and would help the Tennessee Titans to within inches of winning the Super Bowl in 1999.
Offensive linemen don’t get enough credit for their great play and importance on the football field. Their numbers aren’t flashy by any means. But Hopkins deserves to be on this list. He had one of the greatest NFL careers by an Illinois football player.