For some reason, the fourth quarterback in training camp tends to draw an inordinate amount of attention, regardless of the fact that very rarely does he ever seriously enter the equation. The 2018 season was a major exception with Landry Jones and Joshua Dobbs already on the roster when Mason Rudolph was drafted, but no matter who the number four quarterback is, Pittsburgh Steelers fans always want to seem to talk to him.
Devlin Hodges is no exception. The rookie out of Samford was signed following the draft—in fact, signed after he was invited to rookie minicamp—has been drawing some attention so far. General Manager Kevin Colbert explained that process during Steelers Live recently.
“After every draft, we sign a number of college free agents. Then we invite some others that aren’t under contract”, he said. “They come in for that first weekend and then they’re available. If we want to sign them, if they put on a good performance there, then we’ll create a roster spot for them”.
Hodges was actually one of several players who were signed following a tryout at rookie minicamp this year, the others being defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux, outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper, and offensive lineman Damian Prince. Interestingly enough, all four of them have been noted as doing some good things in training camp.
“Devlin in his case did a real nice job in that camp, and we thought that there’s something there”, Colbert said of Hodges. “And so far in training camp, he’s doing well for an undrafted rookie who got in via the tryout basis. Once the games start, that’ll start to sort things out, but so far, so good”.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin also commented on Hodges, saying after the team’s Friday Night Lights practice over the weekend, “I like some of the things I’ve seen from him” and adding that “he’ll continue to get more opportunities. Obviously the in-stadium play at that position is significant”.
For what it’s worth, this is somewhat of a departure from what they have said of the ‘fourth arm’ in the past, though truth be told, they likely don’t field many questions about the Brendan Kays and John Parker Wilsons and Tajh Boyds of the world.
With that said, it’s very difficult, even on a team with a veteran quarterback who plays very sparsely in the preseason, for the fourth quarterback on the roster to see more than a handful of snaps during that time. Over the past decade or so, they have averaged between 20 and 40 snaps per year.
And with an intense battle for the backup quarterback position between Dobbs and Rudolph brewing, it’s safe to say that will only serve to make it all the more difficult to find opportunities for Hodges to play. His best chance beyond simply playing exceptionally well is for one of them—more likely Dobbs, because they have more invested, more recently in Rudolph—to play poorly.