We’re back again breaking down prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, set to kick off on April 27th through the 29th. Our goal this season is to write reports on at least 150 players and hopefully, as many as 200. It will, of course, have a focus on Pittsburgh Steelers’ wants and needs but we will look big-picture too at the best players in this year’s draft.
If there’s a player you would like us to breakdown, let us know in the comments below. Today, another tight end for you to examine.
Bucky Hodges / TE Virginia Tech 6’7″ 245 lbs #7
– Athletic for a player with his height
– Above average catch radius
– Experienced lining up in slot and out wide
– Exploits middle of the field well up the seam on free releases
– Will battle for football and drew several pass interference calls in 2016
– Consistent blocker on edge and out in space against defensive backs
– Red zone scorer with 6 of 7 TDs in that area in 2016
– Can produce explosive plays and counted 13 in 2016
– Not used extensively as EOL tight end
– Struggles with blocking on end of line
– Not overly explosive in release off line and struggles when pressed
– Doesn’t get consistent separation when lined up out wide against cornerbacks
– Some bad drops
– Inconsistent catching technique
– Rounds off top of routes often
– Not a big YAC producer
– 2016: 48 catches, 691 yards, 7 TDs
– Career 133 catches, 1747 yards 20 TDs
– 40 college games played
– (2) 100-yard receiving games during college career
– 2016 ALL-ACC Football third-team selection (COACHES)
– Former quarterback recruit who switched to tight end
– Arrested and charged with public swearing/intoxication in February of 2015
The main thing I took away from Hodges while watching his tape is his ability to battle on the receiving end for the football in order to make combative catches. Here are two plays that feature that ability below with one coming against Pittsburgh and the other against Miami. He needs to be mindful, however, about pushing off as I saw him get away with that a few times where he might could have been called for it.
Hodges also appears to to have a nice catch radius and that should be expected from a player with his sort of length. Here, he catches a football thrown behind him in the game against Pittsburgh.
Hodges did have a few ugly drops last season and below is one of them against Boston College. This is a rare time when Hodges actually gets behind the defender who had played off of him by a step or two and yet he failed to come down with the football.
Blocking on the end of the line of scrimmage is certainly not a strong part of Hodges’ game right now and below is a perfect example of that against Pittsburgh. Watch him duck his head and lunge at linebacker Ejuan Price, who easily slips him for the run stop.
Hodges, however, is more reliable when it comes to blocking out in space and on the edge against defensive backs as you’ll see in the clip below against Boston College.
While a very consistent player in college, Hodges lacks the “wow factor” when it comes to flex and move tight ends. He is far from being a refined route runner and while he can make combative catches in addition to snatching the football out of the air at times, other times he appears unsure as to how he wants to catch it.
I really didn’t see Hodges using his size to his advantage as much as I would have liked to in the four games that I watched of him and especially when it comes to leaping and high-pointing the football. Because of that, I’m curious to see what kind of vertical he registers at the scouting combine.
Hodges’ 54% catch rate in 2016 is a bit concerning but it’s hard to put much stock in that stat without watching every pass that was thrown his direction during the season.
I noted above that Hodges, while very willing, isn’t a very good blocker on the end of the line of scrimmage and he’ll need to put in quite a bit of work in order to improve that area of his game. He might need some bulk to do that and that might ultimately slow him down a tad. He seems to be more effective blocking out of the h-back position and especially after motioning from one side to the other.
Personally, I can see Hodges being drafted anywhere between late in the third round to late in the fourth round and I lean more to the back-end of that projection.
Projection: Late Day Two – Early Day Three
Games Watched: at Tennessee, vs Boston College, vs Miami, at Pittsburgh