“With the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select….”
The name called shortly after was not Devlin Hodges. In fact, not only would his name not be called for the entirety of last year’s draft, his name would never even pop up on the ticker. There were 254 selections in the 2019 NFL draft and Hodges was not one of them. The former Samford quarterback’s phone did not even ring after the draft, as it was not until the Pittsburgh Steelers gave him a tryout during rookie minicamp that he found a home.
While he was not drafted in the first round or even drafted at all, that has not affected Hodges’ confidence or belief in himself. Now seven months later, the undrafted quarterback sits here with a 2-0 record as the starting quarterback on a Steelers’ team that is currently in a playoff position.
“Just being in the NFL, and starting in the NFL, that’s definitely a dream I’ve always had, and I always knew I could do it,” Hodges said after Sunday’s victory over the Cleveland Browns.
At this point, Hodges has become more than just a feel good story. While he may have always known that he could play in the NFL, it is unlikely that many thought he could do what he has been doing. Hodges has not only become only the third Steelers’ quarterback to win their first two starts and the first since Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, but he has also done it against some notably talented competition.
The newly appointed Steelers’ starting quarterback has not defeated any slouches in his two starts. His two wins came against Philip Rivers, picked fourth overall in 2004 and Baker Mayfield, the first overall pick from last year.
Hodges has quietly put together a first round hit list and while no one is saying that the former Samford product is out dueling these former top five quarterbacks, he has done a better job when it comes to putting his team in a winning position. Hodges has not only come out with a better passer rating than both Rivers and Mayfield but he has also turned the ball over less as well.
Hodges: 15/20 132 yards 1 TD 1 INT 87.9 Passer Rating
Rivers: 26/44 320 yards 2 TDs 2 INTs 77.8 Passer Rating
Hodges: 14/21 212 yards 1 TD 1 INT 95.7 Passer Rating
Mayfield: 18/32 196 yards 1 TD 1 INT 1 Fumble 71.9 Passer Rating
Now, Hodges’ work is not done yet. He will have the very rare opportunity to take out another quarterback taken first overall once again this Sunday. The Steelers will travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals and Kyler Murray who was selected first overall last April.
A win there would put Hodges in some pretty rare territory. While he may have always knew he could play in the NFL, only a wild fever dream would imagine the thought of an undrafted quarterback possibly defeating the last two first overall picks in consecutive weeks.
Though right now, Hodges is living the dream as are the Steelers. The Steelers were their own only believers as they sat there at 1-4 a few months ago, the same way they were the only believers in Hodges earlier this spring. Now both are riding an incredible wave of momentum that many thought not possible months ago. The Steelers are back in the playoff race and an undrafted quarterback has been handed the keys to help get them there.
Not too bad for a guy who was passed on 254 times just a few months ago.