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Cowboys' Potential Draft Pick: Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges was a big play-maker for the Nittany Lions, making well over 200 tackles over the past two seasons. Originally recruited as a defensive back, Hodges moved to linebacker in his freshman season.

    Scouting Report

    Hodges is a small linebacker at 6-1, 243 pounds. He added 30 pounds after coming to Penn State, and it doesn’t appear like he’ll be able to add that much more weight. From that standpoint alone, you’re probably looking at a guy who can play only as a 4-3 linebacker, and most likely as the Will (weak side). That’s fine, but it will drop his stock since most 3-4 teams won’t be interested.

    Hodges ran a 4.78 at the Combine, and he elected to not run the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. Long speed is obviously an issue for Hodges, but it’s not like he’s too slow to play linebacker. He also jumped 35.5 inches and ran a 4.25 short shuttle, showing he has a little burst in short areas.

    On tape, Hodges plays like a safety. He’s outstanding in zone and man coverage, flipping his hips and turning to run with ease. He can cover backs out of the backfield, although he might struggle with big tight ends at his height. When Penn State played spread offenses, Hodges lined up in the slot like a nickel cornerback, and he manned that position just fine.

    Hodges is a linebacker who excels in pursuit and won’t consistently hold up at the point-of-attack. That makes me think that he’s a pure Will linebacker who can make plays if he’s in the right situation. He’ll probably come into the NFL as a nickel linebacker before he proves he can hold up against the run.

    NFL Comparison: Justin Durant

    Hodges reminds me very much of Cowboys free agent acquisition Justin Durant. Both players are undersized, beating blockers with quickness instead of power.

    Projection

    Like I said, Hodges is a talented player but he’ll drop because he’s so limited in what he can do. I think the fifth round is a likely landing spot, although he could easily go a round earlier or later.

    Fit In Dallas

    The Cowboys had Hodges come into town for a visit, so there’s at least mild interest. I’ve said for a while that I would use Bruce Carter as the Sam in the new 4-3 and go with an incredibly undersized, fast lineup, but it appears that Carter will play the Will for Dallas. Hodges would compete to be Carter’s backup if that’s the case.

    Other Scouting Reports

    Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

    Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

    Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

    Jonathan Cooper, G, UNC

    Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

    Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

    Chance Warmack, G, Alabama

    Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

    Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

    D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

    Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia

    Barrett Jones, C, Alabama

    Sylvester Williams, DT, UNC

    Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

    Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

    Larry Warford, G, Kentucky

    Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International

    Datone Jones, DT/DE, UCLA

    Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

    Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

    Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee

    Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State

    Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

    Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State

    Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn

    Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State

    Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

    Kyle Long, G/T, Oregon

    Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

    Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers

    Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse

    Stansly Maponga, DE, TCU

    Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee

    Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia

    Justin Pugh, G, Syracuse

    Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

    Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State

    T.J. McDonald, S, USC

    D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina

    Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin

    JJ Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern

    Brennan Williams, OT, UNC

    Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

    David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado

    Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU

    DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

    Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati

    Bennie Logan, DT, LSU

    Josh Boyce, WR, TCU

    Jordan Hill, DT, Penn State

    Sio Moore, LB, UConn

    Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.