When looking at a later round player, it’s easy to just point to the athletic guy and be done with it. It’s rare to find a player in a later round who excels as an athlete but also has the tape and production to back it up. Temuchin “Bucky” Hodges out of Virginia Tech is that guy. A converted quarterback still learning the position, he showcases all the tools needed to be a premier receiving tight end in the NFL and he’s likely available in the third round of your rookie draft.
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Hodges was a three year starter for the Hokies but only started ten games as a freshman. He was consistently third in receptions behind fellow rookie Isaiah Ford, but had more touchdowns in his freshman year, five less in 2015, and the same number in 2016. Leading the team in touchdowns in a freshman campaign is a great sign for his ability in the red zone. His yardage numbers aren’t mind blowing, but for a tight end they are very typical and were a large percentage of the team’s total yards (see dominator rating below). All of this was done in an option offense which historically has a hard time getting huge numbers of production for single players, especially tight ends.
Hodges stands at a whopping six foot six inches and weighed in at 257 pounds at the combine. This puts him at 86th percentile height and 62nd percentile weight. He has very short arms for a TE at only 22nd percentile, but comparing it to all ball carriers jumps him up to 64th percentile arm length and that lack of arm length for a TE is showcased in his inline blocking ability. He has above average hand size for a TE and comparing that to ball carriers as well puts him in the 87th percentile, which is a great sign.
Where he really jumps out on the metric web is his burst workouts and his 40 time. 98th percentile Broad Jump, 96th percentile vertical and at 6’6’’ two hundred and fifty-seven freaking pounds he ran a 4.57 40 which is in the 91st percentile for tight ends. Just compare that 40 times to other skill players in this class, Hodges ran faster than Jamaal Williams (6’0’’ 212lbs), Artavis Scott (5’10’’ 193lbs), and ran the same time as Alvin Kamara (5’10’’ 214lbs)
Bucky also boasts a 74th percentile dominator rating, showcasing his use in the offense even for a player tagged as a tight end. He also has a 91st percentile breakout age and will only be 22 coming into the fantasy season as a rookie. Again his burst score is extremely high, in the 98th percentile; this is showcased in his play on the field.
Hodges looks very fluid on the field and shows good burst off the line, but he can get jammed up in press coverage. His height/speed combo does make him a deathly matchup for smaller corners and line backers. His routes are just alright, slightly rounded but he showcases a few different routes in the tape above. Clearly the jump ball is something he gets thrown a ton and he is very good at going up to get it. He does use his arms to push off at times and that won’t fly as much at the next level of play. While he has good burst, he isn’t a YAC specialist either and does have issues separating if a corner is very sticky. He lines up all over the field and even spends sometime in the slot, showing off versatility. His burst allows him to get coverage locked in then break away on his route leaving him open and his time as a quarterback gives him experience in reading the defense and exploiting it.
In the tape above, he only lines up inline a few times and it’s an area that he needs more experience in. He does use his long arms to block well, but his technique is severely lacking when blocking rush line backers and defensive ends. He needs to get his hands on them faster and keep his feet under him, to use his size and strength better. He does block on the perimeter well since Hodges is a giant human-being, blocking 5’11’’ corners. It’s even possible he could even be drafted as a wide receiver which could move him up boards if he’s asked to block less.
As of this writing Bucky Hodges is currently going as the 30th player off the board, making him a nice dart throw in the third round of a standard 12 team rookie draft. Of course, tight ends take a bit longer to develop and Hodges will be no exception to this rule. He will need time to learn the position and learn how to use his body and athleticism to excel at the next level. Depending on landing spot he might be a major role player three years from now with some potential to see the field as a receiver sooner. That late in a draft it’s hard to find a better athletic prospect especially when O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, and David Njoku are all being taken in much earlier rounds.
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