Hodge Confident as Draft Approaches

Former Iowa Linebacker Abdul Hodge improved his stock each step along the pre-draft trail and is putting the finishing touches on his game before mini-camps. HN.com Senior Writer Rob Howe caught up with the Hawkeyes third all-time leading tackler, who shared information on which NFL team recently ran him through a personal workout, how he and his agent feel about where he might get picked, what type of TV shows he watches in his free time and more in this HN.com NFL Draft Preview.

Do you feel like you've improved your NFL Draft since the end of the season?

I definitely fell like I've improved my stock. I ran faster and better than my pro day (for an individual workout with the Patriots in Iowa City in late March). I lifted better (25 reps).

How did your individual workout with the Patriots come about?

They set it up and came out here.

How much did you improve your numbers from the combine to the pro day?

I ran in the 4.7s at the combine and the 4.6s at the pro day. I didn't lift at the combine and did 25 reps at the pro day.

Why were you able to improve your speed numbers?

After the combine, I went out to Arizona and worked with a speed guy for two and a half weeks.

Do you think the 10th of a second in your 40-time makes that much difference as to your stock?

I lot of emphasis is put on it, but that's their objective way of measuring how fast you are and how fast you're going to be able to play coming to the next level. They know for sure if you can make the move quick enough. If you run a time that they're not satisfied with for your size, weight and position, it's going to raise the red flag of – "I don't know if he's going to be fast enough to make that adjustment at the next level." If you run a 4.6 as a linebacker, it lets them know, "well, OK, we know for sure that he's not a problem in terms of making that jump."

Do you feel like you've answered all the questions about yourself that needed to be answered?

I feel like I've answered all of the questions. I've been playing football all of my life. At Iowa, I started for three years. I started every game and never missed a play. I answered everything that can be asked with my three years of starting and playing well in the Big Ten. I don't know what else they're looking for.

What line of questioning or maybe group of questions was asked most of you during this process?

They asked a lot of questions about my family and my background. For what? I don't know. It's for some reason. Then, they asked me a lot of football knowledge questions, a lot of Xs and Os.

I would imagine you do pretty well with that topic.

Yes. Those are the easiest questions for me to answer.

When we talked in February, you thought you would be an early second-round pick. Do you feel like you may have moved into the first round with your postseason workouts?

You know, to me, I feel like I should be one of the first linebackers that's taken off the board. That's my opinion. Where I'm going to be picked at, I have no control over it. The only think I could control were the things that I did on the football field in the past. If I get picked in the first, that's great. But wherever I get picked, even if it's the third round, it's out of my reach. I always felt like I was underrated and slighted as far as publicity is concerned during my career at Iowa, but that comes with playing college football. Some people get more recognition than other people. But as far as production wise, I'm as productive as any linebacker in this year's draft.

What is your agent telling you? Are there several teams or a group of teams that seem like a good fit for you?

Well, a lot of people love the way that I play football and love a lot of the great things that I bring to the table. I really don't focus on where I'm going to be drafted or by who's going to pick me or what they're saying about me. It's really irrelevant. All I know is that I'm going to get drafted and I'm going to be on someone's team and I've got to be ready to go. A lot of people look at this process like it's the end of it. I look at it as just the beginning. So, I'm not too much focused on finding out where I'm going to go. All I know is that I have a good chance of going somewhere, and whoever drafts me is going to get a really good player for a lot of years.

What is your schedule like for the rest of April leading up to the draft?

Right now, I'm preparing for the draft here in Iowa City training with Coach Doyle. We're trying to get stronger and get back in shape to get ready for mini-camp right after the draft.

When you say get back in shape, do you mean football shape?

When you go to the combine and stuff, you're working on speed. You're trying to get faster, so you don't do a lot of lifting and stuff. Right now, with the combine and the 40s and all that stuff is out of the way, we're working on more football specific stuff and do more intense lifting.

Is it starting to feel like this part is dragging on? Are you anxious for the draft to get here?

Is it dragging out. No, it's actually fine. I have a lot of down time that I really enjoy. I know once the mini-camps starts rolling, the two-a-days will come quick and then the season. I won't have much down time. So, right now, I'm just enjoying the down time, working out and enjoying being in Iowa City.

What does Abdul Hodge do with his free time?

The same thing I'm doing now, man, laying back and watching T.V. That's about it.

What do you like to watch? I remember Fred Russell told me once that his favorite show was Cops.

Oh yeah, I watch Court TV and A.E. all day. I love the cop shows and the investigation channels.

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