*Our TE grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.

**Our TE formulas had some slight changes in the offseason—an adjustment to better identify and value TE prospects that are smaller physically and are primed for the era ahead...the era of Jordan Reed and Delanie Walker-type TEs. Our historical grades will have changed some on various prospects as well, to show their grades by comparison. 

This year's tight end draft class is amazing and confusing. So much athleticism, so much variety of sizes and skill sets. And so many of them that basically played wide receiver, not tight end, in college. It's not easy watching a guy play as a wide receiver game after game of college tape and then try to imagine what he'd be like as an NFL tight end…where he will 95% likely be asked to play a traditional role.

I’d love to imagine a world where these dynamic weapons are unleashed as TE/WR hybrids onto the NFL, but you need look no further than the Seattle Seahawks for what will happen to many guys who are 'hybrid' or 'weapon' type tight ends. Jimmy Graham is probably the most explosive weapon of a tight end the NFL has ever seen…better than/equal to Gronk, because of the size/athleticism combo. On the Saints, Graham was an all-world weapon in the passing game. Changed the way the position was looked at. Seattle traded for him on purpose and made him a primary blocker that they barely throw to anymore. A bunch of square peg talent is headed to a room filled with mostly all round holes in the NFL – Evan Engram, Gerald Everett, and Bucky Hodges to name the higher profile ones.

However, there is one thing that separates Hodges from all the rest of these 'hybrid' tight ends. He is built like a traditional tight end…and that matters. Engram and Everett are smaller-framed guys bulked up to be 'tweener'/hybrid TE/WRs. Hodges is 15–20 pounds thicker and 2–3″ taller. Not only is Hodges 'the bigger dude', but he is shockingly the more athletic/as athletic a prospect as the smaller, 'fast' tight end prospects. You compare Engram and Everett to Jordan Reed. You compare Hodges to Jimmy Graham

6′6.0″/260, 4.56 40-time, 38.5″ vertical, 10′0″ broad, 4.45 shuttle, 6.90 three-cone = Graham (2010)

6′6.2″/257, 4.57 40-time, 39.0″ vertical, 11′2″ broad, 4.45 shuttle, N/A three-cone = Hodges (2017)


Hodges and Graham are almost 'twins'. Only, Graham didn't play much college football (one season of CFB, played college basketball at Miami, Fla.) while Bucky Hodges was a star performer in all three of his college seasons. Jimmy Graham was a late third-round pick because teams had no clue what to do with such a weapon at the tight end positions…seven years later not a lot has changed. It's changed radically in college football…but barely in the NFL. Be that as it may – the argument on properly scouting Hodges is – is he the next Jimmy Graham?

I see signs of it. Virginia Tech would throw Hodges the ball downfield and he would use his size and catching ability to outmuscle defenders for the ball. Hodges is a reliable receiver in the short game as well – very good hands. Considering his 6′6″ size and his WAY above average vertical for a tight end (39.0″) – Hodges displays all the signs of a true NFL weapon in the passing game. There's enough tape that shows Hodges worked well as a receiver in college, and he translates to a fine receiver in the NFL. We can say that because 90% of the time he was split out like a wide receiver in college. There's plenty of tape that shows Hodges is a nice, physical wide receiver. But is he an NFL tight end?

We know Hodges has the size for a tight end. We know his athleticism is high-end among tight ends. We've not seen him line up as a traditional tight end much at all, but when he blocked as a flanker/tight end he did fine – he's so big he can hold off DBs easily. His college game as a receiver was more downfield, but he caught passes over the middle and in traffic enough to make you feel comfortable that he can come across the middle and make catches under duress.

Everything about Hodges translates into 'great' as an NFL tight end receiving weapon…the problem being, we haven't really seen him perform as a traditional tight end in college. That's a logical statement/conundrum, but we didn’t really see Jimmy Graham…or Antonio Gates…or Tony Gonzalez perform as tight ends in college all that much (or at all) either. Antonio Gates never played a down of college football and walked into the NFL and became (arguably) the greatest tight end of all time. College basketball players are converting last second and hanging in the NFL all the time – Julius Thomas, Darren Fells, Erik Swoope, Demetrius Harris, etc. Athletes of the right profile can translate right into the league at tight end…at least with Hodges, we've seen him work on an actual football field. We know he can catch. We have the measurables…some of them off the charts. In the end, this is an "If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…" scouting theory. There are more signs pointing to Hodges as a starter and star at the next level than there are reasons to doubt. Lining up as a WR more than a TE in college is really not a great reason to doubt him as a pro prospect. In some sense, Hodges may be the most gifted TE prospect in this draft, on paper. I'm shocked the reception of him by analysts is so tepid to this point.


Bucky Hodges, Through the Lens of Our TE Scouting Algorithm:

Again, I have to note – looking at Hodges's statistical performance compared to other top college tight ends of the past is a difficult task. Hodges was a flanker most of his time. He wasn't really a tight end in the passing game nor was he much of a wide receiver…more of a big 'weapon'. Suffice it to say, Hodges had a solid/good college career. Three seasons of productivity as a hybrid – 7 TDs as a freshman, top 10 in the ACC in TDs every season of college play.

A couple of things to note…

-- Hodges was used by Virginia Tech to run the ball more times than the usual tight end or hybrid. 20 career carries for 89 yards and a TD. He wasn’t amazing with the ball when I watched him run it, but, somewhat noteworthy, the team saw fit enough to have him run the ball about every other game. Speaks to his unusual size/athleticism package.

-- He was a four-star pocket passing quarterback recruit coming out of high school. He converted to tight end upon arriving to Virginia Tech. Another marker on his football/athletic abilities.


NFL Combine data…

6′6.0″/257, 32.5″ arms, 10.125″ hands

4.57 40-time, 4.45 shuttle, DNP on the three-cone…we'd project 7.10–7.20

11′2″ broad jump (the all-time record for a TE prospect at the Combine), 18 bench reps, 39.0″ vertical


Hodges' college stats on Fox Sports:  http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/bucky-hodges-player


The Historical TE Prospects to Whom Bucky Hodges Most Compares Within Our System:

As we mentioned prior, Jimmy Graham is the natural comparison. Three former college basketball players on the comparison list – Hodges's athleticism is like that of the basketball-to-football converts of the past.

TE Grade









Spd-Agil Metric

Strgth Blxing Metric

Hands Metric






Va Tech












Miami, Fla























































*A score of 7.0+ is where we start to take a TE prospect more seriously. A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of TEs going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL TE.

All of the TE ratings are based on a 0–10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.

**The ‘TE-Reed’ score is in honor of Jordan Reed’s 2015 season…looking at TEs in a different manner—the smaller, speedy receiving threats.

“Speed-Agility Metric” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding speed, agility, physical size, mixed with some on-field performance metrics. High scorers here project to have a better YAC and show characteristics to be used as deep threats/create separation.

“Power-Strength Metric” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding physical size profiling, bench press strength, etc.  High scorers here project to be more physical, better blockers, and less injury-prone.

“Hands Metric” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding on-field performance in college, considering the strength of opponents played. Furthermore, this data considers some physical profiling for hand size, etc. High scorers here have a better track record of college statistical performance, and project the combination of data for receiving success at the next level.

2017 NFL Draft Outlook:

I'm shocked that Hodges's draft stock is stuck at late third/early fourth round. His stellar NFL Combine hardly moved the draft needle. If people are holding 'didn’t play real tight end in college' against him…why not the same for Evan Engram and Gerald Everett, who are almost always ranked well ahead of him in the mainstream? If a team drafts Gerald Everett ahead of Bucky Hodges, they should fire the entire personnel department. I gotta believe Hodges moves up to a solid third-round pick.

NFL Outlook:   

The later in the draft he falls, the more likely he gets nabbed by New England or Green Bay…teams with plenty of other tight end options, but can’t pass up the value. Hodges's early career will depend on if a team rises up to take him ahead of projections to make him a featured player in the offense…or if a smart team just steals him as he fades in the draft. One of the freakiest tight ends to ever hit the NFL Draft…and there's not much media/draft momentum to push him as an impact player right away as a rookie. It’s very odd. Eventually, he'll be an impact player in the NFL…the question is – will it be sooner or later?