It’s interesting how stark the contrast had become in terms of how Pittsburgh Steelers fans viewed rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges after his first three starts versus at the end of his second set of three starts. He won the first three, of course. His second three, all losses, doomed the team’s postseason chances. He was even benched in the middle of that stretch.
But the fact that the team ever felt a level of comfort in an undrafted rookie quarterback out of Samford to start a game in the first place still should tell you something about how highly they regarded him, as well as how much he was able to advance in the very early stages of his career.
Did he play great? No. But a lot of rookie don’t play great in the NFL, and the quarterback position is the most difficult position in which to excel right out of the gate, especially when you are coming from an FCS school with a lower level of competition. It’s a much bigger adjustment to make from the college level to the pros than at any other position.
That said, he’s still not guaranteed anything for 2020. He figures to be penciled in as the number three quarterback for now behind Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph, but they also have Paxton Lynch on the roster, and they could add somebody else somewhere along down the line as well.
Whatever comes, he knows there’s nothing guaranteed to him, so he’s just enjoying the ride. He knows he’s capable of playing at this level, though, and he is looking forward to taking advantage of any opportunity that comes his way.
“I could always imagine I would be playing in the NFL, but this quick, and how it happened. I couldn’t imagine it”, he told the team’s website, after making his NFL debut in Week Five, then starting in Week Six for the first time.
“It’s definitely a blessing being able to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the most historic franchises in the NFL. We had so much fun”, he added. “Not the way we wanted it to end, but don’t think I would trade this first year or group of guys for anything”.
He continued by saying that the season was a tremendous amount of fun and that he considered it a blessing to play in that locker room with the group of players they had. “It makes me so excited for the future”, he said, something he clearly intends to be a part of.
And that certainly shouldn’t be discounted. He wasn’t even signed as an undrafted free agent last year, but he came within a hair’s breadth of making the initial 53-man roster before ultimately starting six games. He is the only non-replacement undrafted rookie to win three games as a quarterback in the common era of the NFL. Yet many people are quick to simply want him released. They could do far worse for a number three quarterback, and have in the past.