Round 6 | Pick 185 | Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
Hodges is the new generation of monster TEs who can run. He can definitely stretch the field. At 6’6″ he is just too big for most defensive backs to jump with, and he’s too fast for most linebackers. As a former QB and WR, he understands offense better than most, and would be a much higher pick if 2017 weren’t the best TE class in NFL history.
Hodges may be a little green at the position, and he’s not necessarily going to be a superb blocker, but he’ll be a dangerous weapon for an improving offense. Zach Miller has the starter role, provided he doesn’t get injured. And Dion Sims was brought in to be a backup, or maybe even see some starting time. At the very most Hodges waits a year before he starts to steal snaps away from the incumbents.
Hodges had 20 TDs the last three years. Based on NFL Combine events, he had just about as impressive a showing as top-rated TE O. J. Howard. Hodges showed he can go up and get it, taking the top spot in vertical and broad jump for tight ends. A 6’6″ guy jumping nearly 40 inches is going to win just about every jump ball scenario; so, it’s no wonder the Virginia Tech offense had the propensity towards that pass to Hodges.
Hodges might just be the freakiest pass-catcher in the country.
The only major knock on Hodges is his lack of experience and his rough edges. His scouting reports, however, all too often end up describing him as an unstoppable weapon when used correctly. Rob Rang of CBS seems to be a big fan, thinking Hodges could possibly have garnered first round consideration.
Much like the one year evaluation period for Nathan Peterman, there could be a year of growth used on Hodges. Current TEs Miller ($3M dead cap in 2017, $500K dead cap in 2018) and Sims ($6M dead cap in 2017, $600K dead cap in 2018) are more than capable of producing satisfactorily, and could easily be cut after the season. Hodges could then be in a great position after working on his craft for a year.