2015 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Harvard DE/OLB Zack Hodges

ZACK HODGES- 6’2, 250- SR.

COMBINE RESULTS: 4.68 40-yard dash, 33.5” vertical jump, 125.0” broad jump, 4.65 20-yard shuttle 

Though the Ivy League is not traditionally considered to have a wealth of NFL-quality football talent, the country’s most academically prestigious athletic conference has produced a nice string of pro prospects in recent years, the latest of whom is Harvard pass rusher Zack Hodges.

Hodges has served as a jack-of-all-trades with the Crimson, contributing as a rusher from all areas of the field. While the ability to do that made him an extremely successful college player, there had been widespread concern about how Hodges’ lack of size would translate to the NFL, as he had been listed no heavier than 235 pounds as a collegiate athlete. Hodges alleviated some of those concerns at the combine, however, weighing in at 250 pounds and still remaining relatively fast, running a 4.68 40-yard dash that ranked him eighth among edge rushers.

However, Hodges will have to continue to prove that he can carry the requisite weight to play an edge rusher position. Much like Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Hodges earned the right to at least go into a team’s training camp as a 4-3 defensive end or, more likely, a 3-4 outside linebacker, but if he can’t retain the weight, he may ultimately be looked at as a candidate for a move to 4-3 outside ‘backer. Putting Hodges at that spot would be risky, however, considering his lack of assertiveness as a run defender at the college level.

Hodges has some extremely marketable skills as a pass rusher and has the potential to be an impact edge player at the NFL level. Those skills are likely strong enough to get him taken in the third or fourth round, though teams will have to make sure that he stays dedicated to the strength program and works to improve against the run.

POSITIVES: Pretty well-developed pass rushing technique, drops hips well when rounding the edge and does a decent job of using his hands…moves across the field well, certainly athletic enough to drop back into coverage at the next level…very disciplined with keeping his contain, doesn’t get caught out of position often…good run defender, utilizes quality tackling form…contributes as a rusher from all over the field, including as an end (both in two and three-point stances) and lining up at nose tackle, inside linebacker, and in the slot…utilizes a solid spin move.

NEGATIVES: pretty light; weighed in well at the combine, but was listed at just 235 pounds by Harvard; may need to switch to 4-3 outside linebacker as a pro if he can’t keep weight on…burst off the line of scrimmage is adequate but not elite, relies more on spectacular technique and consistent effort to compliment his athleticism…needs to do a better job of consistently settling his feet, gets taken out of the play easier than he should…takes questionable paths into the backfield…as with any FCS player, concern over the level of competition he went against on a week-to-week basis while at Harvard.

2014 Summary: Hodges played in all 10 of the Crimson’s games in 2014, and he led the team with 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. He was rather underwhelming as a run defender, collecting just 26 total tackles over the course of the season. He also had two pass breakups. He failed to match the stellar production that he put together during his sophomore year, when he had nine sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and 32 total tackles, but overall it was a strong season for Hodges, who was a unanimous selection as a first-team All-Ivy League player.

Talent Grade: Early Third Round

Rams Role: The Rams are pretty deep in terms of their pass rush, with Robert Quinn, Chris Long, William Hayes, Eugene Sims, and Ethan Westbrooks on the roster at defensive end, although Hayes might be a cap casualty candidate this offseason. Even if Hayes were to go, it would be very surprising to see the Rams select another end on the second day of the draft, which is when Hodges seems likely to be selected.

Film Watched: vs. Holy Cross (2014), vs. Lafayette (2014), vs. Yale (2014), vs. Penn (2013), vs. Brown (2013), vs. Princeton (2012)