At times, what picks or rounds players at a certain position are drafted in do not entirely reflect the talent level of the individual players. A good example in this year's draft is the inside linebacker position. Partially based on talent but also influenced by current team needs, you might see as many as half a dozen outside linebackers taken before the first inside linebacker. This is not to say that there is a dearth of talent at the latter position. One such player that refutes that theory is Iowa inside linebacker Adbul Hodge.
Make no mistake - even if Hodge, 23, is selected a round or two after fellow Hawkeyes outside linebacker Chad Greenway (a sure first-round selection), Hodge will provide the team that drafts him with an all-around great football player that has all the ability to shine if simply given the opportunity.
Born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Hodge was a three-year varsity starter and team captain for Boyd Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Hodge lettered four times in football, as well as twice in track and once in baseball.
After being redshirted during his first year at Iowa in 2001, Hodge appeared in all 13 games for the Hawkeyes in 2002. For the season, he had 38 tackles and a sack, including a six-tackle performance against Southern California in the 2003 Orange Bowl.
In his first year as Iowa's starting middle linebacker, Hodge earned First-Team All-Big Ten Conference honors with 141 tackles (10 for loss), two sacks, three passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Hodge started 12 games for the Hawkeyes in 2004, leading the team to a share of the Big Ten title with season totals of 116 tackles (five for loss), three sacks, four passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
As a senior in 2005, Hodge had another outstanding year despite the departure of three defensive linemen from the season before. His 98 solo tackles, 158 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss were all team highs. Hodge also added a sack, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries to his season performance. His team-leading statistics are all the more impressive given the presence of Greenway.
Hodge played four seasons for the Hawkeyes and started the last three. He was the centerpiece for a defense that won the 2004 Outback Bowl over Florida and the 2005 Capital One Bowl against Louisiana State.
In each of the past three seasons, Hodge led the team in tackles, and his 453 career tackles rank third all-time in Iowa history.
Have you figured out yet the guy can tackle? It should be pretty apparent at this point. Hodge is a sure tackler and a big hitter, a trait that earned the nickname “The Hitman” in high school.
Hodge is very quick and is a good athlete. His 4.76 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine was above average for inside linebackers.
Hodge is also very strong, though he chose not to participate in the bench press at the NFL Combine. Look for those numbers after Iowa's Pro Day March 20.
One of the best features about Hodge may be his intelligence. He's very smart has a good football mind. Much like Greenway, Hodge is a hard worker and was one of the team's leaders.
At just 6-foot-0 3/8, 236 pounds, Hodge is a bit undersized and lacks ideal height for the position, though his strength helps him make up for this. Hodge's size creates uncertainty over the position he will play at the next level, and that could somewhat hurt his draft status.
Though great as a run stuffer, Hodge sometimes struggles in pass coverage. He will need to work on his technique in this area to be successful in the NFL.
Lack of a strong need for the position, as well as Hodge being undersized in the eyes of some, will cause him to drop out of the first round and quite possibly the second. Though it becomes increasingly difficult to predict specific destinations for players after the first round, look for Hodge to be a late Day 1 pick. He met with officials from the Minnesota Vikings at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Hodge's size raises questions of whether he will play inside or outside linebacker at the next level, but he is just a very good football player and has all the tools to succeed in the NFL, no matter what position he plays.
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