No matter how you slice it, 2019 has been a fairly remarkable year for the man they call Duck. Sure, he may have set an FCS record for the most passing yards thrown in a career, but if we’re being honest, we understand that doesn’t really mean much.
The 6’1” Devlin Hodges went undrafted. He was not signed after the draft, though he was invited to a few rookie minicamps. He attended the first with the New York Giants, but was not signed. The Pittsburgh Steelers held theirs later, and elected to sign him, releasing Brogan Roback as the fourth quarterback.
That allowed him to get his foot in the door, and at the end of the road, we would see him take the last snap of the season for the Steelers in what was, if nothing else, a truly interesting year. Hodges played no small part in making it so, following his journey, and hearing duck calls on-air in primetime.
He may not have had a storybook ending, mustering 20 total points in his final three games, all losses, and bottoming out the team’s playoff hopes, but that’s not how he’s going to remember this year, and it shouldn’t be, either.
As he told reporters after the game, “I played for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year, who are one of the most historic franchises in the NFL. I am very blessed”. He not only played for them, he played in eight games, starting six, winning three. And for a time, he was the most popular person in the city.
‘If you would have asked a lot of people at the beginning of the season if I would be in this position, they would probably say no way. I played with the Pittsburgh @steelers this year, who are one of the most historic franchises in the NFL. I am very blessed.’ – @DevlinHodges10
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) December 30, 2019
“If you would have asked a lot of people at the beginning of the season if I would be in this position, they would probably say no way”, he said. And back in May, it was certainly hard to imagine. Of course, the opportunity never would have presented itself if not for Ben Roethlisberger suffering a season-ending injury.
It may not have even happened had the injury occurred a week earlier, because the week before Roethlisberger was placed on the Reserve/Injured List, they traded their number three quarterback, Joshua Dobbs, when they were offered a fifth-round pick for him when the Jacksonville Jaguars saw Nick Foles go down in Week One. of course, Foles would later be benched himself.
Who knows what’s next for Hodges? There’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to be at least the Steelers’ number three quarterback in 2020, and let’s remember, he was a rookie. He’s going to grow and get better. How much? Who’s to say?
Even if he has played his last down in the NFL, he’ll have an experience to look back on for the rest of his life. He threw for over 1000 yards and five touchdown passes at the highest level of his profession, and that will almost surely be the best story anybody in the bar will have to tell on any given night.