Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with the 2017 NFL Draft. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.
Not only does Bucky Hodges have one of the catchiest names in the 2017 NFL draft, he’s one of the more intriguing prospects as well. At 6-foot-6, 257 pounds, Hodges didn’t play tight end until he arrived at Virginia Tech. As a dual threat quarterback in high school, it only took him one redshirt year to learn his new position. In his redshirt freshman season, Hodges was named a freshman All-American and since then he hasn’t looked back.
While only playing the position for three seasons before declaring for the draft, Hodges is still a raw right end. However, he can have an immediate impact in the NFL if his next team uses him properly. His combination of talent and potential make him a second to third round pick.
When it comes to all-around football abilities, Hodges nearly has it all. He matches his ideal body frame with great athleticism—4.57 40-yard dash—and has the ability to read defenses using his high football I.Q. that he developed during his time as a quarterback.
As a receiver, he is also a dangerous weapon. Hodges uses his tremendous size to his advantage as he has a wide catch radius and often catches passes at their highest point, making it difficult for defenders to make plays on the ball. Hodges is a receiving threat all over the field, from out wide as a receiver to in the slot and even as an in-line tight end. He is also dangerous at all three levels of the field, especially as a deep threat in the middle.
Hodges combination of size and speed make him a nightmare matchup for both linebackers—as he is too fast—and corners—as he is too big.
While most NFL prospects have played their respective positions for 10 to 15 years of their life, Hodges has only played tight end for three. Because of that, he is still raw and still has plenty of learning to do. Hodges needs to continue to improve as a route runner, specifically adjusting his routes in traffic and accelerating in and out of cuts.
He also needs to develop his blocking skills. While he has NFL size, he does not have much experience in blocking, which will likely lead to a rough transition to the NFL where he will certainly be asked to block if he wants to be an every down tight end.
Finally, and potentially most importantly for his style of play, Hodges needs to work on catching the ball. From easy passes to difficult ones, he has had problems holding on to the ball, even juggling many that he then catches. The ability to catch the ball with his hands, and not his body, will be crucial for his transition to the next level.
How he fits in Denver
The Broncos need a third pass catching weapon on offense, and while that could come in many forms, Hodges could provide that to the Broncos immediately. Although labeled a tight end, new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy could use Hodges all over the field and create matchup problems for opposing defenses. Paired with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, opposing teams could find it difficult to guard all three players.
While Hodges would instantly be Denver’s best pass catching threat from the tight end position, he would need to significantly improve his blocking skills before he would be an every down tight end. With a second or third round draft pick, Denver could get a dangerous playmaking receiving threat.