After the announcement of Kendall Fuller declaring for the NFL Draft, speculation surrounding Bucky Hodges started to increase about whether he would follow Fuller to the NFL. Hodges was told by the NFL Draft Advisory Board to return to Virginia Tech, but the Virginia Beach native still was undecided.
Today, Hodges announced his NFL Draft decision on Twitter that has Hokie Nation quite happy.
— bucky hodges (@Bucky757) January 13, 2016
Bucky Hodges announced that he will be returning to Virginia Tech for his junior season only a few days ahead of the deadline to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. Hodges has the potential to be a first round pick down the road, but likely would have been a second or third round pick in this year’s draft.
After having a strong freshman season, Hodges had a somewhat disappointing sophomore season given expectations with 40 catches for 530 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns, and an average of 13.3 yards per reception. Hodges did have an issue with drops this past season and needs to improve in that area going forward to improve his 2017 NFL Draft stock.
Hodges has the potential to be a top 5 tight end at the NFL level due to his tremendous combination of size, speed, and athleticism that makes him a dangerous receiving target. Hodges has made progress as a blocker, but still has plenty of room to grow over the next year especially now that he likely will be used more to block with Ryan Malleck gone.
Justin Fuente’s offense may be a big reason that Hodges is returning as the 757 native has to be considered a favorite to win the John Mackey Award next season since he is arguably the best tight end returning in 2016. Hodges has the chance for a big season, but will have to improve his hands or could once again be a little disappointing.
For Justin Fuente, this gives him another talented playmaker to work with along with Isaiah Ford, Travon McMillian, and Cam Phillips. Hodges gives the Hokies another matchup nightmare in the passing game along with Ford that will force teams to make decisions on who to double-team while also likely leading to mostly one-on-one matchups for Phillips.
Bucky Hodges has a chance to see his draft stock rise to first round status in 2016 with a strong season, making his decision to return the right move for him along with making Hokie fans and coaches very happy.