After a record-setting career in Cambridge, 6'2" 250-lb edge rusher Zack Hodges now sets his sights on the NFL. With 118 tackles, 26 sacks, and 41 TFL over his four-year career, the production and potential is apparent. But it is also clear that he will have to make some major adjustments in order to make a significant impact at the next level.
The first thing that jumps out to you when watching Hodges play is his pure relentlessness. Even if he is not directly involved in every play, he won't give up on it until the whistle is blown. That is a necessary trait for an edge rusher, where the first move might not always work in getting past a blocker and making the play.
Hodges plays to his strengths. He relies on his speed and quick-twitch abilities to get to the ballcarrier. In space, Hodges finishes well and avoids arm tackles. As a pass rusher his strongest ability is his spin move, which can get even the best offensive tackles off-balance.
Although he's been battling injuries for most of the offseason, Hodges had what many thought to be a strong combine. He ran a 4.68 40-yd dash and had a 125-inch broad jump, one of the top performances of the combine in that category.
When evaluating prospects from smaller schools, what scouts want to see is the ability to dominate on a consistent basis. Hodges didn't always do that at Harvard. Teams realized if they lined up in heavy and pounded the ball right at him, he couldn't always hold his own.
The main reason for that seems to be his size. At 250 pounds, he could get away with lining up at DE in a 4-3 scheme. He'll likely have to move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme at the NFL, and even then he will have to bulk up.
If he does that, he'll then have to prove to teams that he's not a one-trick pony. Can he go speed-to-power if doesn't get the initial advantage off the edge? Can he hold his own in the run game? Can he drop back and make plays in pass coverage? We didn't see him do much of that in college.
There have also been some reports of teams being underwhelmed by the Harvard product during the interview process, but I never really know how much stock to put into those kinds of things.
Hodges has all the tools to be a productive edge rusher in the NFL, he just has to put it all together. The most important things for him to do now is bulk up, get healthy, kills the rest of his interviews, and really impress a team that has a plan on how to use him. Right now, I don't see many teams considering taking him before day three of the draft because of how raw he is.