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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech

Could Virginia Tech’s Hodges be the big threat the Giants’ passing game is missing?

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants added blocking tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison in free agency, but they still need to add a big, athletic pass catcher to the tight end position to bring more balance to their passing game.

Defenses employed a 2-Man coverage scheme to frustrate the Giants’ passing game in 2016, and they also saw their offensive production drop by a full touchdown from 2015. A big, athletic tight end to attack the seam would go a long way to forcing defenses out of that coverage, and help improve their scoring woes.

Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges is still developing as a tight end, but he is one of the biggest and most athletic tight ends in this exceptional class.

Measurables

Pros

  • Combines prototypical size and weight for an NFL tight end with elite athleticism
  • 6 foot, 6 inch frame and near-40 inch vertical leap give Hodges a massive catch radius.
  • Uses his size well to box out defenders and has a knack for forcing defensive pass interference calls.
  • Productive red zone threat with 20 touchdowns in his three years at the position despite not being the focal point of the VT offense.
  • Has the ability to pick up yards with the ball in his hands.
  • Willing blocker with the upside to get better.
  • Reportedly very high football IQ. Former QB who understands offensive concepts.

Cons

  • A willing blocker, but not very good at it. Easily the weakest part of his game, and he needs consistent technique.
  • Used more as a jumbo wide receiver by Virginia Tech. Rarely in-line as a true tight end.
  • Only three years of experience at the position.
  • Routinely makes circus catches but also has the occasional focus drop.

Does He Fit With The Giants?

Yes, he does.

The Giants have had a reported interest in Hodges, and if they want to add size and dynamic athleticism to their offense it’s easy to see why they might like Hodges. His first year in the league he will likely be a pass catching specialist, but he has the upside to be the freakiest pass catcher to emerge from the 2017 draft.

Hodges graded out as the No.2 SPARQ (a measurement of athleticism vs. size) athlete in the tight end class, and will be in the 94 percentile of NFL tight ends the moment he is drafted. His size, speed, and ability to high point the ball will make him an instant red-zone threat, which has to intrigue a team that struggled to put the ball in the endzone last year.

Hodge’s ability to eat up yards in the open field would also help force defenses out of the 2-Man coverage scheme that frustrated the Giants’ passing game last year.

Hodges’ blocking issues likely mean that he would have to be used with Rhett Ellison in a “12” personnel grouping, but his receiving ability would make it more like the Giants’ customary “11” personnel set, but with more size if they field Hodges and Brandon Marshall. He is a better blocker than advertised (though it is still far from a strength) and has the upside to get better. If he is willing to put in the work, there is no reason why he couldn’t become a “complete” tight end.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 32nd overall

CBS Sports - 173rd overall

Draft Countdown - 66th overall

Draft Tek - 94th overall

Final Thoughts

Bucky Hodges will be an interesting player to follow over the next couple years. Personally, I believe many are sleeping on him and he has the potential to blossom into a player similar to Jimmy Graham. His size, speed, and leaping ability all jump off the tape, and the raw materials are there for him to become a dominant player at the next level.

Hodes will certainly need to improve his blocking, and he has untapped upside there if he is willing to work for it. But it’s just interesting that even in a thoroughly talented and athletic class, Hodges stands out as one of the most productive and athletic, but isn’t getting more attention.