I’m not sure there was any one individual player story in the NFL this season more curious than that of Devlin Hodges, the rookie quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers who became the first undrafted rookie in the modern era as a non-replacement player to win three games.
Coming out of Samford after setting the FCS record for the most passing yards thrown over the course of a career, Hodges failed to be drafted, and then went unsigned. He received some rookie minicamp invitations, the Steelers’ being the second that he attended, at which point he signed.
Following that, he worked in the offseason as their number four quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, and Joshua Dobbs. While he was afforded opportunity other fourth arms had not in the past, he still did not make the roster.
Circumstances would dictate his looping back, however, ultimately making the roster and entering the starting lineup. He would eventually go 3-3 as a starter, but the fact alone that he started six games this season is pretty remarkable in and of itself.
Hodges sat down recently with Missi Matthews for the team’s website to talk about his rookie season. “It’s definitely been crazy”, he said, before summarizing his journey. “Just being undrafted, making it on a tryout, then cut Week One, practice squad, then a week after practice squad, the 53. And then a couple weeks later I’m starting my first game”.
“It’s just been wild, it’s been a blessing”, he went on. “Like I told people at the press conference after the game, I got a chance to play and start and win some games for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are one of the most historic franchise in the NFL. When you sit back and think about that, it’s awesome”.
As it currently stands, he still figures to be in-line to make the 53-man roster again in 2020, behind Roethlisberger and Rudolph, the latter of whom head coach Mike Tomlin has already said is their backup going forward. Of course, he could always push the conversation if it comes to that.
Or he could end up being replaced by somebody else. If they feel the need to add a veteran, that would be one approach, though it’s hard to see that happening given their limited cap space and the predictable possible expenditures.
Ultimately, Hodges completed 100 of 160 pass attempts for 1063 yards, throwing five touchdowns to eight interceptions. He threw just one touchdown in his final three games versus six interceptions, and in about 10 quarters of play, produced just 20 total points of offense during that span.
Nevertheless, prior to that, he was 3-0 as a starter, and gave birth to Duck Season. I don’t think we’re going to see that again, but it was certainly an interesting albeit very brief period in team history.