While it’s still early in the week, it appears as though Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges might make his first career start Sunday night against the Los Angeles Chargers on the road. Should he indeed start, the odds will be seemingly stacked against Hodges and the Steelers when it comes to winning that Sunday night game and that’s understandable. After all, not only is it tough for any true rookie quarterback to win his first career NFL start, it’s even harder for an undrafted one to do so.
A quick search on Pro Football Reference reveals that there’s been just three true rookie undrafted quarterbacks who won their first career starts dating back to 2010. Those three quarterbacks were Kyle Allen (2018), Matt McGloin (2013) and Max Hall (2010). When it comes to the Steelers, specifically, I can’t find any instance of an undrafted rookie quarterback winning his first career start. Not only that, only two Steelers quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger (2004) and Mike Kruczek (1976), are apparently the only two in the history of the franchise to win their first career NFL starts during their true rookie season.
Now that we have the probability angle with Hodges winning Sunday night out of the way, should he indeed start against the Chargers, the Samford product pulling off the unthinkable in Los Angeles and on primetime television might not ultimately surprise Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells. Why? Because Hodges checks all of the boxes on the Parcells criteria for drafting a quarterback out of college.
I’ve referenced Parcells’ list of seven things he looked for in the past when it came to his evaluation of quarterbacks and in case ypu need a recap of them, I have them listed before you:
1. Be a three-year starter
2. Be a senior in college
3. Graduate from college
4. Start 30 games
5. Win 23 games
6. Post a 2-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio
7. Career completion rate of 60 percent or higher
As I’ve mentioned several times already in posts and on the podcast, Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph checked all seven of Parcells’ boxes during his college career at Oklahoma State. However, Hodges did as well and we were recently alerted to the fact on Youtube by user Knoxly. Let’s look at how Hodges checked all seven of those boxes:
1. Hodges was a three-year starter at Samford
2. Hodges entered the NFL after playing his senior year at Samford
3. Hodges graduated from Samford in the spring of 2018 with a degree in sport administration
4. Hodges started 40 total games Samford
5. Hodges won 24 games as a starter at Samford
6. Hodges threw 111 touchdowns and 41 interceptions at Samford
7. Hodges completed 1310 of his 1896 (69.1%) total pass attempts at Samford
Obviously Parcell’s seven criteria is far from an end all do all when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks and checking all seven of those boxes certainly doesn’t guarantee success as we’ve seen over the years. Additionally, Hodges being an FCS product will likely diminish him checking a few of the Parcells’ boxes as well. Hodges, however, did break the FCS passing record at Samford and that record previously belonged to the late Steve McNair.
For whatever it’s worth, McNair failed to check all seven of Parcells’ boxes during his college career. That, however, didn’t stop McNair from being selected third-overall by the Houston Oilers in the 1995 NFL Draft and the Alcorn State product went on to win 91 regular season games during his NFL career in addition to five more in the playoffs. Can Hodges win his first NFL game Sunday night against the Chargers if he starts? We’ll soon find out.