The Pittsburgh Steelers have 21 rookies on their 90-man roster right now, including nine draft picks and 11 college free agents. I think that few of them have been talked about more so far since the start of training camp than Samford college free agent quarterback Devlin Hodges, who is running fourth behind Ben Roethlisberger, Joshua Dobbs, and Mason Rudolph.
While the odds remain quite stacked against him to make the 53-man roster, the 6’1”, 210-pounder continues to simply go about his business, and he has been able to make plays when he has gotten the opportunity to get on the field—which has been about half as frequently as the rest of the quarterbacks.
Prior to yesterday’s practice, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked yet again about Hodges, which is about the third or fourth time at least since training camp opened. “The moments out here haven’t been too big for him”, he said, though he added that, “obviously, the confines of a stadium are different”.
That is significant because the Steelers have just one final practice today, which is largely a walkthrough, before they participate in their first preseason game tomorrow at Heinz Field as they play host to Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tomlin also said during that press conference that Dobbs would be the starter, and Rudolph would follow, but from that point on, they will have to essentially play it by ear. “We’d like to get him some play”, he admitted.
“We’ll see how the flow of the game goes. We’re working with the intentions of doing that, but sometimes things unfold a little bit differently once you get inside that stadium”, Tomlin added. “Those are the intentions. He’s been deserving of the opportunity. I’m sure he’ll get it here this week or the next”.
So, whether it’s this week or next week, Hodges figures to get some playing time in the preseason. Typically, the number four quarterback will see between 20 to 40 snaps over the course of the four-game preseason schedule, but rarely has that player attracted as much attention as has Hodges to date.
One can only hope that he does get into the game and is able to justify the hype that is mounting around him from both those who have actually gotten the opportunity to see him play in training camp, as well as those who have simply read about it.
There are those who are hopeful that he can make a push to make the 53-man roster this season, which would allow them to trade one of their other quarterbacks. Jason LaCanfora even previously speculated early in training camp, seemingly off the cuff, that they could be in a position to trade Dobbs, their 2017 fourth-round pick, who subsequently watched the Steelers trade up in the third round last season to take Rudolph.