Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges has chosen to forego his final season of collegiate eligibility and enter the NFL draft, according to Jared Shanker of ESPN.com. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. ranks Hodges as the best tight end in this year’s class, just ahead of Alabama’s O.J. Howard (Insider subscription required).
At 6-7, 245 pounds, Hodges is a physical freak. He is also extremely fast for a player his size, and he has enjoyed a prolific career for the Hokies, notching 127 catches and 20 touchdowns during his time in Blacksburg, including 48 catches for 691 yards and seven touchdowns this past season.
The former high school quarterback was frequently lined up as a wide receiver for Virginia Tech, and he was rarely used as an in-line blocker. Blocking, therefore, will be something that he needs to work on when he turns pro, but given that most collegiate tight ends are essentially overgrown wideouts these days, that will not hamper his draft stock too much in the pass-happy NFL.
A more pressing concern about his game could be his route-running, as he is still somewhat unpolished in that regard and often relies on his size and athleticism to win his matchups, which will be more difficult for him to do at the next level. But that, too, is something that is becoming more common in today’s college game, which has seen the proliferation of spread offenses and other offensive schemes designed to exploit athletic mismatches.
But all of Hodges’ positive attributes certainly overshadow his weaknesses, which can be addressed by an NFL coaching staff. He will be a first-round selection this spring.
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