Gerald Hodges: 5 Things You Need to Know About Former Penn State OLB

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IApril 26, 2013

Gerald Hodges: 5 Things You Need to Know About Former Penn State OLB

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    Hailing from "Linebacker U," Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges will enter the 2013 NFL draft attempting to become the next big name from a long line of former Nittany Lions at the position. 

    Productive (back-to-back 100-tackle seasons) and well-recognized (two-time All-Big Ten selection), Hodges brings an resume to the next level that should see him eventually drafted. He's projected as a third-day pick.

    Here's the five things you need to know about the former Penn State linebacker. 

Background

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    Full Name: Gerald Davon Hodges

    Birthday: Jan. 17, 1991

    Hometown: Paulsboro, N.J.

    High School: Paulsboro

    Major: Rehabilitation Services

    Year: Senior

    In 2009, Hodges was rated as the No. 4 overall outside linebacker in the nation by Scout.com, despite playing at safety and quarterback in high school. 

    According to his Penn State profile, Hodges was named a first-team all-conference selection in each of his final two seasons. He also won two district and four conference titles as a prep. 

Statistics

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    As a true freshman, Hodges played in all 13 games and delivered three tackles, each of which came on special teams. 

    Given a role that included three starts the next season, Hodges tallied 31 tackles (2.5 for loss). He made his first career start against Indiana and finished the season with three straight starts overall. 

    Hodges finally broke out during his junior campaign. Allowed to start all 13 games, Hodges recorded his first 100-tackle season. He also added 10.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on his way to a first-team All-Big Ten season.

    While not the same kind of diverse playmaker his senior season, Hodges did record another 100-tackle season over 13 games and was a much bigger factor against the pass. He also earned his second straight All-Big Ten honor (second team) and was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's best linebacker.

    Year G/GS TKL/LOSS SACK INT PD FF
    2009  13/0 3/0.0  0.0 
    2010  9/3 31/2.5 0.0 
    2011  13/13 106/10 4.5 
    2012  13/13 109/8.5  1.0 
    Total  49/29 249/21.0  5.5  16 

    Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.

Draft Process

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    Measurables

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 243 lbs.

    Arm length: 32"

    Hand size: 9"

     

    Combine Results

    40-yard dash: 4.78 seconds

    Broad jump: 119"

    Bench press: 22 reps

     

    Pro Day Results

    Vertical jump: 35"

    20-yard shuttle: 4.29 seconds

    Three-cone drill: 7.27 seconds

     

    Hodges opted to wait until the Penn State pro day to do some of the drills he skipped at the NFL combine. His times in the shuttle and three-cone drill were encouraging marks. Hodges did sit on his combine 40-time of 4.78 seconds, which was somewhat surprising.

    Combine results courtesy of NFL.com; pro day results courtesy of NFLDraftScout.com.

Interesting Facts

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    According to his Penn State profile, Hodges ran for 705 yards and threw for 695 yards and 10 touchdowns as a three-year starter at quarterback in high school. He also returned kicks for Paulsboro High School. 

    Hodges wasn't only a standout football player. During high school, he was also a captain of both the wrestling and track and field teams. As a wrestler, Hodges finished his junior season ranked third in the state (40-1 record). 

    During a two-game stretch in 2011, Hodges won back-to-back conference Defensive Player of the Week awards—and rightfully so. He totalled 14 tackles (1.5 for loss), 1.5 sacks and one interception during a win over Northwestern, and then followed that performance up a week later with a career-high 19 tackles, one sack, two passes defensed and a forced fumble in a win over Illinois. The last Penn State linebacker to earn back-to-back weekly awards from the conference? NaVorro Bowman. 

Observations

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    NFL.com compares Hodges to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Quincy Black, who was drafted in the third round of the 2007 NFL draft and went on to start 40 games for the team over the last four seasons. 

    Their "bottom line" scouting report sheds a positive light on Hodges' ability to cover:

    Hodges is a converted safety who is growing into a NFL starting Sam linebacker’s frame -– but he still has the movement skills to bring down ballcarriers in space. Hodges most impressive trait is his ability to cover, however. He needs to improve at disengaging from blocks, but his coverage skills will likely see him selected on the second day.

    CBS Sports, which rates Hodges as its 17th-best linebacker and a potential fifth-round pick, had these strengths and weaknesses to report on his game:

    STRENGTHS: Seeks out ballcarriers and delivered a physical pop upon contact. He has above average athleticism for the position, showing the range to make plays all over the field and the agility to avoid blocks and quickly arrive to the play. 

    WEAKNESSES: Hodges has added nearly 30 pounds of bulk onto his lean frame since high school, but he doesn't have the body type to get much bigger, too easily getting hung up on blocks at the point of attack.

    Matt Miller of Bleacher Report is on board with both projections, as he slotted Hodges to the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round of his final mock draft.