Scouting Report, Zach Hodges, DE/OLB

Hodges is a small school prospect with big time talent.

Hodges is a small school prospect with big time talent.

 

NEPD Staff Writer:Mike Gerken

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and the college football regular season is coming to an end too. Sure we have a few games left, but teams are transitioning to their conference championship games as well as gearing up for bowl season.  This is the time when draftniks start getting busy as well. We’re getting to the point where we can start digging in and combing through hours of tape that we were not able to get through during the weekly grind of the regular season . One guy I have been excited to watch is Harvard’s Zach Hodges and here is what I saw.

Name: Zach Hodges, #99

School: Harvard

Ht: 6’3″

Wt:235 lbs.

 

Positives:

Hodges is an impressive athlete with a high motor. He is a very aggressive player that will wear down defenders with his relentless pursuit of the football.  Hodges plays with a low pad level and good bend and balance, which allows him to get under larger offensive lineman when rushing the passer.  He has an explosive first step and acceleration, which makes him a threat to get to the quarterback on every plan.  Hodges does not just rely on his first step to beat the offensive lineman however, he has a variety of pass rush moves including a good inside move and very active hands.  Harvard has used him in a variety of different positions including DT, DE, OLB, and ILB.  This gives him position flexibility at the next level, but most likely he will be a pass rushing OLB.  Hodges is very smooth moving forward as well as dropping back in coverage. He is also smart (duh, he goes to Harvard) and shows good awareness, vision, and play recognition. In the first play I’ve highlighted below, you can see Hodges’ impressive speed and burst as he blitzes the passer from the ILB position. In the second play, notice how smooth and comfortable he looks dropping back into zone coverage.

http://www.draftbreakdown.com/video-embed/?clip=253774&start=20&end=40
http://www.draftbreakdown.com/video-embed/?clip=253774&start=190&end=196

 

Negatives:

Obviously Hodges plays in a conference that does not have a lot of NFL talent in it, so it is hard to predict if he will be as dominant in the NFL as he has been in college.  At 235 lbs. Hodges can at times get swallowed up by offensive linemen and will need to pack on some pounds and get stronger, especially in his lower body, in order to be successful at the next level. I will be interested to see what he measures in at when he gets to the combine because I’m not sure his height and weight are accurate.  He also can be overly aggressive at times, which gets him out of position to make the play.  In the plays below, you can see that Hodges struggles from time to time to get separation from the opposing offensive lineman.

http://www.draftbreakdown.com/video-embed/?clip=253774&start=181&end=187
http://www.draftbreakdown.com/video-embed/?clip=253774&start=268&end=273

Overall:

There is a lot to like about Hodges. So far, he has been one of my favorite players that I’ve scouted and I would have to put him in the draft “binky” category.  There is an obvious concern about the level of competition, but he has dominated in every game I was able to watch, and that is all you can ask for when scouting a player from a lower division.  His athleticism and smarts will give coaches the opportunity to use him in a variety of positions and situations, which Patriots fans know is something that they covet.  I really like that he does not just rely on his speed and quick first step, but rather shows a nice variety when rushing the passer.  If he can get stronger and show that he can hold up against the run, then he could be a very special player in the NFL.  It is always difficult to predict where small school guys will go and the pass rush DE/OLB class is deep this year, but I personally give Hodges a 4th round grade.

 

 

11 Responses to “Scouting Report, Zach Hodges, DE/OLB”

  1. Dan Sullivan says:

    Watch for these potential Patriots.
    1 Ty Sambrailo OT Colorado State
    2 Carl Davis DT Iowa
    3 Ameer Abdullah RB Nebraska
    4 Tyler Kroft TE Rutgers
    4 Preston Smith DE Miss.St.
    5 Bo Wallace QB Ole Miss.
    7 Erick Dargan SS Oregon

    For the Red Sox fans if we don’t get Lester then watch Ben Cherington do his magic.
    I guarantee Sox fans will be quite happy. Dig in Ben don’t wait on Lester.

  2. Bully C says:

    In an August 2014 interview with Dan Brugler of NFLdraftscout.com Hodges is quoted as saying the NFL is an “interest” to him. Not quite the ringing endorsement I want from an early rounder who’ll be competing against NFL players (I think I’d prefer a kid who is hungry for the next level).

  3. John says:

    Just for fun, thought I would throw this Pat’s mock out there. Took needs, past drafts, and what I would like to see happen, into consideration.

    1) Bud Dupree (or Nate Orchard) 34OLB/43DEnds- supplement/ eventual replacements for Nink
    2) Jake Ryan 43OLB/ILB- Can ball. If he hadn’t blew out his ACL, he’d go higher. Every bit as good as Striker, who I also like around here
    3) Jarvis Harrison OG- Probably a little high for them to be drafting a guard, but I feel like he’s going to be a great value in the 3rd
    4) Eric Lefeld OT/G- Depth, character
    4) Karlos Williams RB- Will drop for numerous reasons, but still talented

  4. Mike Gerken says:

    Thanks for the heads up Russell, I will give him a look

    • Russell says:

      Tull is a great prospect , alittle heavier than OLB Beasley, but the other numbers are very close. Tull is highly intelligent, and plays with relentless effort.
      Also take alook at WR Kevin Vereen Jr. Northern Iowa 6’3″ 210 runs a 4.56 40yd, and has great hands, and runs good routes.

      • Mike Gerken says:

        Hey Russell,
        Being an Iowa native, I have been on Vereen for awhile now. Like you said, great hands. Won’t wow you with speed, but a great prospect. Nice eye.

  5. Russell says:

    Davis Tull DE/OLB is a better prospect, 6’2″+ 245lbs, runs a 4.58 40yd.

  6. steve earle says:

    Don’t trust Ivy League prospects, sorry about that.

    • MaineMan says:

      Personally, I don’t care where a guy comes from, as long as he can ball.

      That said, given the currently *presumed* depth of this DE/OLB class, Hodges’s weight (highly unlikely to be accurate) and competition level, my sense of the market trends leads me to think he’s unlikely to break into Day-2 of the draft, much less the 2nd round – and probably then only if he shows really well at the Shrine Game, AND puts up Shazier-level workout numbers at the Combine.

      • steve earle says:

        Over the years few Ivy Leagers have been truly good NFL players. Before I’d get excited about any one of them that guy would really have to be special. I just think most are students playing football rather then football players attending collage. JMO from decades of observation.

        • MaineMan says:

          because of his “pedigree”, for now, I’d say the odds are Hodges goes as a 7th/UDFA with an NFL range from PSQ-er to ST-er/reserve LB.

          OTOH, since perhaps several teams are now looking for the “next Paul Worrilow” (UDFA 2013, Delaware), IF Hodges puts up outstanding workout numbers, he could break into Day-2. And then only time will tell if he was overdrafted.

          BTW – not *every* pre-draft analysis in 2013 was ignoring Worrilow’s potential:

          http://www.metricsfootballmedia.com/sample-nfl-draft-reports/LB_Worrilow_Paul.html

          he was their top ILB prospect for the 2013 draft – no kidding.

          Unfortunately, it’s a pay site – $29.99 for last year – though, apparently their archives from 2013 are available free. The don’t have any info up yet for 2015.

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