After trading for wide receiver Stefon Diggs and adding wide receiver Gabriel Davis earlier in the draft, the Buffalo Bills still weren’t done adding potential targets for Josh Allen. In the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft the Bills selected wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins out of Oregon State. Late-round steal? Let’s take a look.
Let’s start off with the bad news. On this and quite a few other plays Isaiah Hodgins ended the play a little less enthusiastically than might be preferred. It’s hard to put this tactfully, but here goes. It’s not that Hodgins was terrible at blocking. There are some decent ones on film. It’s that there are enough plays like this one where you have to question the effort sadly.
Here’s one of the good ones. I’m not shy about discussing my distaste for cut blocks, but there’s no questioning he gave it his all. So while it sounds like I’m saying Isaiah Hodgins consistently failed to put the effort in, that’s not how I want it to come across. It’s often enough to bring it up as a point, but not universal.
Let’s start watching Isaiah Hodgins the receiver though. This is the first branch we’ll look at in a decently complex route tree. Hodgins gets the defensive back to bite on the inside move then turns upfield for an easy score. One reason it’s such an easy score is that Hodgins is able to maintain speed while tracking. His neck is craned for a long time, which often results in significant deceleration.
Hodgins’s route flattens out right at the sticks, which is almost certainly by design. It’s decent evidence that he sticks to the script and can be counted on to be where he’s needed to be. Unfortunately the pass is not right where it needs to be. Hodgins helps his quarterback out with his large catch radius.
The way Isaiah Hodgins starts to turn early suggests there might have been a plan to put on the brakes to create separation underneath the defensive back. Or maybe not. It’s clear that whatever occurred it wasn’t strictly to plan. Hodgins has good body control and makes another leaping catch. At 6’4” Hodgins is a big target for a wide receiver. Leaping like he does on top of that? That’s a good way to help a quarterback out.
This is a pretty crisp route and Isaiah Hodgins presents his quarterback with a clean target right away with plenty of time to push toward the end zone. A better-timed pass would have the ball to Hodgins earlier to make a better push over the goal line. Even with that factored in, Hodgins doesn’t make a strong push. Despite his size he doesn’t come across as an overly physical receiver.
This GIF is here primarily to show that leaping ability on the move. This is full speed for Hodgins, which doesn’t look sufficient to pull away from NFL defenders. That means he’ll have more contested catches than a faster player, but as we see here he’s gonna fight for the ball.
On the second hip flip, there does seem to be some deceleration—though not so much that it prevents him from the catch.
Starting with the good stuff, Isaiah Hodgins already has a decent route tree with a pretty good tool kit of moves. Hodgins’s excellent catch radius shouldn’t be ignored either and reliable hands suggest he could become a trusted target.
That said, limited strength and speed will likely result in a steep learning curve in the NFL. Go back and look at some of his bigger plays. While he’s a decent route runner I’m not confident he’ll create separation remotely like what we see in the plays above at the NFL level.
Will Isaiah Hodgins make the roster? It’s possible. Robert Foster and Duke Williams should be taking notice as Hodgins may prove to have superior ability to make contested catches and track the deep ball.