Time to Consider Bucky Hodges for Your Stockpile of Rookie Picks
With many eyes on Alabama tight end O.J. Howard at the NFL Scouting Combine last week, the rest of that position group did its very best to make sure that scouts, evaluators, and casual observers noticed them. One player in particular did a fine job of elevating his name to the forefront. Bucky Hodges.
Let’s take a look at the college career of the Hodges, examine just how good his combine showing was, and take a look at some comps from recent years to gauge what he could bring to the the table after his name is called in the NFL Draft in late April.
Hodges played three seasons for the Virginia Tech Hokies after arriving in Blacksburg as a quarterback. According to AcmePackingCompany.com
Early on during his first year on campus, Hodges said that a coach “asked me if it was cool for me to play tight end that week.” He did and quickly made the position switch permanent.
The permanent switch allowed the former signal caller to post consistent numbers for the Hokies.
|YEAR||GAMES||RECEPTIONS||YARDS||YARDS PER RECEPTION||TOUCHDOWNS|
These numbers stack up favorably against the current top-tier of fantasy TEs.
Hodges 1,747 receiving yards rank 12th all time for Virginia Tech. His 20 receiving TDs are third most for the school. Hodges believes that his history as a QB has improved his ability as a receiver, saying:
“I know what he (the QB) wants, how he wants certain routes…I read a lot of coverages in high school so reading coverages were very easy for me in college.”
Bucky Hodges turned heads at the combine thanks to his impressive vertical of 39 inches, his 4.57 forty, and a ridiculous 134-inch broad jump. Kevin Cole’s regression tree found that the key drills were the 40, the bench press, and the vertical. Hodges didn’t attempt the bench press in Indianapolis but still stacks up nicely. (To help gauge a better idea of comparitive talent, I set the RotoViz Box Score Scout to include draft assumption, which I set at 45).
Travis Kelce has the second most receiving yards, 11th most touchdowns, and fourth most PPR points among tight ends since 2014. During his time in the pros, Dustin Keller was TE12 in total PPR points. L.J. Smith amassed the 10th most receiving yards among TEs between 2003 and 2008, as well as the 10th most PPR points. Before signing with Green Bay, Lance Kendricks managed to survive on the Rams roster despite 22 TE’s having more PPR points, 21 TE’s catching more passes, and 20 scoring more touchdowns. Virgil Green, Michael Egnew, Ben Troupe and Leonard Pope have done little to warrant fantasy owners attention in their careers. An interesting comp is Tyler Eifert, but just hold that thought for a moment.
However, athletic numbers only tell part of the tale. Let’s take a look at how Hodges’ final-season college stats stack up against recent prospects.
So, as you can see from above, there are worthy comparisons, in both athletic and production terms, between Eifert and Hodges. In his final season with Notre Dame in 2012, Eifert averaged just 0.4 of a reception more per game than Hodges and had 3.3 more receiving yards per outing, but averaged 0.3 touchdowns per game against Hodges’ 0.5. Their market share of receiving yards was identical, while their touchdown market shares are 22 percent to Eifert and 23 percent to Hodges. Eifert has been a valuable NFL contributor, especially when it comes to finding the end zone.1
In the most recent edition of the RotoViz Scouting Index, Bucky Hodges was ranked as the third TE prospect behind Howard and David Njoku. According to CBS Sports …
“[Hodges] rarely was used by the Hokies as a traditional in-line blocker. He shows awareness and competitiveness while blocking for teammates, but is a work in progress in this area, currently proving more of a pest than a punisher to opponents.”
If his future coaches agree, this could cost him valuable snaps, but it’s as a receiver that fantasy players will be interested. At 6-foot-6 and 257 pounds, he could become an instant red zone threat even as a rookie.2
The Jets finished 32nd in red zone touchdown scoring percentage, as per the RotoViz Drive app, and with the seventh pick in the second round, they may look to Hodges. A team that might trade down in the first round could be the Denver Broncos at No. 20 overall. They ranked 25th in red zone TD percentage and have practically nothing at tight end.3 If Howard and Njoku are gone, they could look to Hodges to bolster their red zone offense.
Given his college production, not to mention his still impressive combine numbers, I am higher on Bucky Hodges in the long term than I am with 2016 rookie Tyler Higbee, for instance. As well as Eifert, there are notable comparisons between Hodges and Greg Olsen from an athletic viewpoint and Hodges and Kyle Rudolph in terms of final year college production. Olsen has had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and at least 800 yards in his last five after a fairly middling start to his career with the Bears. Rudolph teased fantasy owners with breaking out before he finally did in 2016.
These players, of course, were not fantasy relevant as rookies but have ultimately blossomed into studs. As I mentioned before, Hodges has skills that could see him make some noise in his early years before really emerging as a star down the line. Dynasty Football Warehouse had Hodges at 29th in their most recent rookie rankings, which would make him a third round pick in 12-team Dynasty leagues. After his combine performance, he may rise a few spots. His landing spot could make all the difference in the world, but he’s certainly a player I’ll be looking to add and stash in my dynasty leagues.
Subscribe for a constant stream of league-beating articles available only with a Premium Pass.
- Of TEs with at least 20 touchdowns since 2013, only Julius Thomas has a better touchdown rate than Eifert’s 10.9. (back)
- Perhaps similar to 2016 sensation Hunter Henry. 30 percent of Henry’s rookie targets and 27 percent of his receptions came inside the red zone, with seven of his eight touchdowns also coming there. (back)
- Apologies, Virgil Green truthers. (back)