For the most part the NFL Scouting Combine is just a tool in the scouting toolbox, a check for what you see on film. But every year there is a player who shows up at the combine and works his way up draft boards.
In the past it’s happened for Aaron Donald and Dontari Poe, both of whom were overlooked prior to the combine (for different reasons), but put up workouts that were impossible to ignore.
This year one of those players could be Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges. In fact, Dan Kadar of Mocking The Draft has moved him up from a second day (second or even third round) pick to the New York Giants at 23rd overall.
23. New York Giants: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
This may seem like a surprise pick, but Hodges boosted his draft stock in a big way at the combine. If the Giants don’t take him here, he probably won’t be there in the second round.
Raptor’s Take - This might be a surprise for the league at large, but it wouldn’t be a surprise pick here. Not only have we been consistently bringing up Hodges’ name as a player who is being overlooked, but a source told Big Blue View during the 2016 season that Hodges could be a name to watch for the Giants.
Putting that aside, anyone who pays attention to Jerry Reese’s draft tendencies should have had an eye on Hodges. He is young at 22 years old, with high character, high football IQ, and tantalizing upside.
This was only confirmed at the Combine when Hodges established himself as the No. 2 SPARQ player in the tight end class, and would be one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL from the moment he stepped on the field.
There is the belief that Hodges “can’t block.”
He isn’t a great blocker right now. He is however, willing, and as his combine-record broad jump and ridiculous 39-inch vertical jump show, he has plenty of lower-body power to put to the task. He was rarely used in-line out of a 3-point stance, so he is uncomfortable in that regard and his problems are all experience and technique related. If the player is a willing student, those kinds of problems can be fixed.
Ultimately adding Hodges would give Eli Manning a player who is the same size as Jimmy Graham at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, has similar speed in both the 40 and short shuttle, and a better vertical and broad jump. At the very least that should loosen coverage of Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, force teams out of the 2-Man coverage which stifled the Giants’ passing game in 2016, and give Manning a monstrous red-zone threat.