Devlin Hodges went undrafted. Then he went unsigned in the college free agent process. He got invited to participate in the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie minicamp. He outperformed Brogan Roback and was signed to the 90-man roster. He continued to impress despite getting fourth-arm reps, but still failed to make the roster.
Or the practice squad. And he remained a free agent after he was released. When the Steelers traded Joshua Dobbs, and called on Hodges to sign to the practice squad. Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season suddenly, and now the Samford product is the Steelers’ number two quarterback, backing up Mason Rudolph. For now.
In order to fill the practice squad spot left open with Hodges’ promotion, the team acquired former first-round quarterback Paxton Lynch. He will serve as the number three quarterback for the time being. But the way Mike Tomlin talked about Hodges, it seems the team is open for the depth chart to flip.
“We thought he was our best option because of his experience with us throughout the offseason and into the preseason in terms of knowing what it is that we do”, he said about Hodges regarding his promotion to the 53-man roster. “Obviously we brought him back after we traded Josh, so he’s been back into the fold last week. He knows the ins and outs of what’s going on. He provides the best short-term option for us”.
He used the phrase “short-term option” to describe Hodges’ status as the team’s direct backup, a player who has never been on the 53-man roster before backing up somebody who has played in one game and thrown a total of 19 passes.
“We went with Hodges because he’s been a significant component of our offseason and training camp, and for short-term fluidity we thought that was the best”, Tomlin later added in response to another question later in his press conference. Short-term option. Short-term fluidity.
He is really the only quarterback they can call upon right now who has a familiarity with what they’re going to be doing on Sunday. Dobbs is in Jacksonville now. Even Landry Jones is in the XFL, and unlike the AAF, they can’t just break their contracts and sign with an NFL team outside of the season.
When Tomlin was asked about Hodges’ leadership qualities, he probably scoffed in his mind. “Man, I have no idea”, he said. “I’m more concerned about the quality of his play. First thing’s first”.
He did offer that “leadership is something that kind of comes with that position”, but added, “our focus right now is just his overall readiness in terms of being ready to play and execute and articulate the things that he needs to do in order to get this thing moving if called upon”.
It’s pretty remarkable how much has changed in just one year. Last September, it was Roethlisberger, Dobbs, and Rudolph. Right now, it’s Rudolph, Hodges, and Lynch. It’s a brave new world, that has such people in it.