The team at Vikings Territory has been busy working to get to know each of our newest Vikings draft selections and this week we will give you a chance to learn everything we know about these players through our reintroduction of the “Welcome to the Big Show” series.
Next Up: TE Bucky Hodges
Temuchin “Bucky” Hodges is a Virginia Beach, Va. native and former four-star quarterback recruit from Salem High School. A multiple-sport athlete in high school, Hodges received a handful of Division I offers from across the United States including Ohio State, Maryland, Vanderbilt Virginia and West Virginia but elected to sign his letter of intent at Virginia Tech.
Hodges, who proudly wore Michael Vick’s No. 7 for the Hokies, was converted to tight end almost upon arrival, a position he excelled at immediately and earned Freshman All-American and Second-Team All ACC honors throughout his three-year collegiate career.
He is the son of Temuchin Hodges and Kimberly Thompson and earned a degree in human development this past December.
College Attended: Virginia Tech
Collegiate Seasons: 3
Games Played: 39
Receiving Yards: 1,747
Receiving Touchdowns: 20
Rush Attempts: 21
Rushing Yards: 89
Rushing Touchdowns: 1
Punt Return Touchdowns: 1
Weight: 257 pounds
Arm Length: 32 1/2″
Hand Size: 10 1/8″
40-Yard Dash: 4.57 seconds
Bench Press: 18 reps
Vertical Jump: 39″
Broad Jump: 134″
3-Cone Drill: N/A
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.45 seconds
60-Yard Shuttle: 12.08 seconds
- Freakish combination of size, length and athleticism
- Excellent “go-up-and-get-it” target
- Physical and strong at the catch point
- One-on-one matchup nightmare
- Red zone weapon
- Body control
- Dangerous in space
- Alignment versatility
- Can be used as a “surprise” rusher (ie: end-arounds, reverses, options, etc.)
- Outside wide receiver route tree
- “Trick Play” skill set — former quarterback with rushing and receiving experience
- Extremely motivated by draft-day slide
- Glorified wide receiver at Virginia Tech
- Aligned primarily as a “split end” wide receiver in 3 seasons following a transition from quarterback
- Very raw pass protector
- Very raw run blocker
- Tendency to be a “body catcher”
- Inconsistent route releases
- Drawn-out acceleration and subpar “short speed”
- Will need to increase upper body strength to block NFL defenders
TALE OF THE TAPE
Bucky Hodges possesses an extremely rare combination of size, length and athleticism, which made him dominant in one-on-one coverage at Virginia Tech. He is a matchup nightmare for both linebackers and cornerbacks especially in contained spaces like the red zone. Hodges is dominant at the catch point, using his special athleticism to gain an advantage, great length to snatch the ball and a strong physical frame to establish positioning in the air.
While he is already an NFL-caliber pass-catcher, Hodges has quite a bit of work to do in protection to become a more well-rounded tight end. Aligned almost exclusively as a split end at Virginia Tech, Hodges will have to develop his very raw in-line blocking skills to become more than a glorified wide receiver at the professional level.
That said, however, Hodges can be an immediate impact player situationally in the NFL as a chain-mover, a red-zone mismatch or simply in a decoy role — as defenses will be forced to account for his presence.
Lance Zierlein – NFL.com: “Bucky Hodges still has work to do as a route-runner and his inconsistent hands could be a concern. He can line up inside or outside while his size and ability to work all three levels of the field should be appealing to teams looking for pass catching options. The competitive nature of the NFL could bring out more consistent toughness in him as a blocker. He has the tools to be a long-time starter and touchdown-maker in the league.”
Rob Rang – CBS Sports: “Bucky Hodges starred as a dual threat quarterback in high school and redshirted his first season at Virginia Tech while transitioning to tight end. Once on the field for the Hokies, however, Hodges quickly emerged as a standout, earning Freshman All-American honors (USA Today) by setting a new school record for freshmen tight ends with 45 receptions for 526 yards and six touchdowns while starting just 10 of 13 games.
He proved in 2015 that his impressive debut was hardly a fluke, hauling in another 40 catches for 530 yards and six touchdowns (and running for another 27 yards and a score) to earn Second Team All-ACC accolades.
Few offenses center their attack around a tight end and the Hokies are no different, using Hodges more as a complementary threat than the focal point. Evidence of this comes with the inconsistency in his scoring, with his six touchdowns in 2015 spread out in three games against Duke (three touchdowns), Purdue (two) and North Carolina (one). As such, while he has enjoyed impressive production from a season-long perspective, there is optimism that he could take his game to an entirely different level in 2016 with greater game-to-game consistency.
Of course, NFL scouts may not be as concerned with Hodges’ consistency at this point because of the fact that he has only been playing the position for a few years. It is Hodges’ perceived upside (and not his current statistics) which has them excited.”
Mel Kiper Jr. – ESPN Insider: “Bucky Hodges is 3 year starter who moved from TE to WR in 2016 (48 catches 691 yards 7 TDs). Projects as move TE at the NFL level. Rare size and athleticism which was showcased at the combine clocking in with a 4.57 (5th for TEs) while setting the bar in the VJ: 39′ and BJ: 11’2′. Hodges has an extremely high ceiling and flashes the potential to develop into a difference maker in the passing game. However, the lack of consistency in his overall game (most glaring drops) make him one the bigger boom/bust prospects in the class.”
Pro Football Focus – PFF Analysis Team: “Drafting Bucky Hodges may require a second-day pick, and there’s a certain level of projection, but he offers the size and tools to create mismatches at the next level. He’ll require significant work to refine his blocking technique and will need to lower his drop rate — career 8.28 percent. But the factors supporting Hodges’ ceiling offer more than enough to balance the risk.”
SELECTION & REACTION
Bucky Hodges Response: “I’ve got a chip on my shoulder the size of a boulder. I got picked in the sixth round. I was expecting earlier, but I’ve got a story of my own to write now. Tom Brady was also a sixth-round pick, but I’ve got my own story. I’ve got a Bucky Hodges story to write.’ And now, it’s my job. I’m ready to get to work. Rookie minicamp is next week, I’m ready to be there. I’m excited be a Viking.”
Rick Spielman Response: “Athletically, [Hodges is] off the charts. [Virginia Tech] played him out of position. They’ve pretty much played him as a receiver last year. I think he has tremendous upside as an athlete.”
The initial expert analysis of the Bucky Hodges selection was very optimistic and extremely positive overall:
Mark Dulgerian – NFL.com: “Bucky Hodges can be a red zone matchup weapon for a offense that struggled to put the ball in the paint last year.”
Steve Muench – ESPN: “Bucky Hodges showcased his rare natural ability at the combine and flashes the potential to develop into a difference-maker in the passing game. However, his tape doesn’t always match up with his talent, and he’s one of the bigger boom-or-bust prospects in the 2017 class.”
VT Readers – Poll: Vikings Territory readers were extremely pleased with the Bucky Hodges selection, grading the pick as an “A” (64.91 percent of votes) or a “B” (26.32 percent of votes) at a 91.23-percent rate.
THE VIKINGS FIT
The Minnesota Vikings found themselves a late-round steal with their selection of Bucky Hodges. While he may never prove to be a well-rounded, “old school” tight end, the former Hokie possesses a very rare pass-catching skill set that opposing teams will have trouble scheming to defend against.
Hodges is listed as a tight but he, ironically, played the majority of his college career lined up in the same spot as 2016 first-round wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, creating immediate competition at a big-body, red-zone threat role that has forsaken the Vikings for over half a decade.
As a result, Hodges could pay immediate situational dividends in Minnesota, as the overlooked and emotionally-charged tight end begins a career in which he will attempt to honor the No. 84 jersey amidst making every team pay for allowing him to slide to the sixth round.
WELCOME TO THE BIG SHOW
DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa
LB Ben Gedeon, Michigan
WR Stacy Coley, Miami