Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect DaMarkus Lodge, WR of Ole Miss. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
This year’s wide receiver class has a lot of talent both at the top and throughout the later rounds of drafts. The three receivers from the Ole Miss Rebels entering the 2019 NFL Draft could be considered a microcosm of the class. Standout athlete DK Metcalf and the productive AJ Brown are among the top few players. Meanwhile, lost in the shuffle was teammate DaMarkus Lodge.
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Statistics from The Football Database.
Lodge is coming to the NFL after four seasons with the Rebels. Should both Metcalf and Brown be selected in round one of the NFL draft, Lodge will have played with four first-round pass-catchers in his college career. Laquon Treadwell, Evan Engram, as well as the two 2019 prospects all shared the same field with Lodge at some point. Needless to say, Ole Miss has had some talented pass-catchers since 2015.
A former four-star recruit, Lodge took some time adjusting to the college game and cracking the starting lineup consistently over other talented players around him. Finally breaking out in his junior season, Lodge was then sharing the field with Brown and Metcalf. Now, if Lodge were truly an elite prospect, we wouldn’t need to contextualize his collegiate career so heavily. However, as a later-round player, it’s worth digging deeper into his production.
In 2018, Lodge, Brown, and Metcalf played together in six of the team’s games. As the clear third wheel to Brown and Metcalf in terms of prospect quality, one would have expected Lodge to be overshadowed by the aforementioned duo. However, looking at individual game logs, it is another story. Below, you’ll see Lodge actually led the team in receiving yards in three of the six games this trio played together.
While this certainly does not mean Lodge is better than Brown or Metcalf (and I’m not suggesting that), it does mean that he can share the same field as elite NFL prospects and still thrive. His final-year statistics show a player with the capability to compete with high-end caliber NFL talent. As a potential third or fourth round rookie pick, it’s a good indication that he has a chance to be a contributor at the next level.
Above is a shortened clip of all notable Lodge plays against Texas Tech in 2018. This was the first game of the season and one of the six he played with Metcalf and Brown. There’s a lot to like from this game film, but also a couple of improvements Lodge needs to show at the next level.
First, Lodge displayed a good ability to be strong after the catch, fighting for extra yards nearly every play. He has strong lower body churn to move the defender for extra yards. This is exemplified on the very first play of the clip. He constantly battles, but with that comes the risk of trying to do a bit too much, as evidenced by his fumble at the 3:15 mark. This fumble stems from Lodge being too aggressive with the ball in his hands. Of all traits, this seemingly is one that can be coached. A smart coach will turn that fight into a positive.
Lodge also displays big-play ability with a beautiful grab down the sideline (1:42) and lands a nasty block to set up Brown for more yards (2:48), but also commits a bad drop (2:15). He often lines up on the right-hand side, but there are a few plays throughout this game and others where he lines up on the left. Overall, this game is a good indication of the good and bad of DaMarkus Lodge.
His athletic profile leaves a lot to be desired. In a class filled with bigger, more athletic receivers, Lodge looks far inferior to others in his class. However, with above-average size at the position, 4.55-second wheels in the 40-yard dash, and just over a seven-second three-cone time, he certainly should not be written off because of athleticism.
I’m a firm believer that the biggest impact the NFL combine has on a prospect is on draft capital. Lodge did not do anything to “wow” scouts in Indianapolis, but he also didn’t raise any major red flags. Ultimately, he is more of a “football player” than “athlete” at the position, indicated by a solid production profile along with below-average testing numbers.
In DLF March rookie mock drafts, Lodge’s ADP was approximately 42. He went no earlier than 33 in any draft, but also never dropped below 49. In essence, dynasty owners are valuing Lodge as a clear fourth-round rookie selection.
In regards to the NFL draft, he has a wide range of outcomes. Lodge could go as early as the third round of the NFL draft. If this is the case, I would expect him to jump into the late second round of rookie drafts in May.
However, it is more likely that Lodge finds himself still on the draft board in the middle of day three (not round three). There’s a minimal chance he goes undrafted, as his SEC background should bolster his stock at least to the point of draft-worthy. He has all the makings of a fifth-round NFL draft pick; someone who has legitimate concerns about his profile but has shown he can play well at the highest level of college football.
Lodge is currently a target of mine at the third/fourth round turn of rookie drafts. He’s not a player I believe will eventually rise into the top 50 or even top 100 of overall dynasty rankings, but he’s someone who will find a role at the next level and has the potential to be a solid producer throughout his rookie contract.
While overall athleticism and draft capital concerns may push him down rookie rankings – and fairly at that – Lodge has shown that he can be on the field with legitimate NFL talent and still thrive. Once he’s on an NFL roster, he’ll be no stranger to the level of competition both of this opposition sideline and his own. Later in rookie drafts, Lodge represents a safe (relative, of course) bet with potential immediate production in the NFL.