Every season, NFL teams add players through the draft. When it’s the high-end, top picks on the first two days, they can effectively let their accomplishments do their talking for them.
For the guys who had to hang around until Day 3, it can be a humbling experience and one that provides a harsh dose of reality.
However, that doesn’t apply to Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges. Fans are going to love this kid, because, in his opening interview with the local Twin Cities media, Hodges set the tone that his belief in his own ability and his frustration of being kept on the board longer than not only he thought he should, but what the pre-draft analysts expected, will drive him.
Those who produce draft material, including Pro Football Weekly, Lindy’s, Mel Kiper, Nolan Nawrocki and Todd McShay, ranked Hodges fourth, sixth, ninth, sixth and eighth, respectively, among the draft class of tight ends. Yet, he was the 13th tight end off the board when he was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round. Before he could even be asked a question, he let it be known he wasn’t happy about it.
“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder the size of a boulder,” Hodges said. “I got picked in the sixth round. I was expecting earlier, but I’ve got my own story to write now. Tom Brady was also a sixth-round pick, but I’ve my own story. I’ve got a Bucky Hodges story to write.”
Although the 2017 tight end class was deeper than it has been in a decade, that didn’t quell Hodges’ frustration. He knew he was better than 13th on the tight end depth chart and wasn’t shy about letting people know about it.
“Just to see guys going in front of me, I know I’m better than,” Hodges said. “It adds fuel to my fire.”
What followed over the next eight minutes was the job interview of a very confident player who didn’t feel any reason to be overly humble about his skill set. When asked about making the rare conversion from quarterback to tight end, something that almost never happens, Hodges said, “It’s a rare change, but I’m a rare player.”
Making the team isn’t the goal for a player like Hodges. He wants it all and, because he’s willing to work for it, he doesn’t expect to be just another guy. He aspires for much, much more – a Mount Rushmore-style career.
“I want to be great,” Hodges said. “I want to be a legend. I want to be a name that’s remembered forever in the NFL.”
It’s unclear whether Hodges is aware that the Vikings have never won a Super Bowl. He will try to change that.
“I want to be successful,” Hodges said. “I want to win a Super Bowl. I want to win multiple Super Bowls.”
Will Hodges help the Vikings turn the corner and finally hoist the Lombardi Trophy? Apparently, if they’re smart enough to target him when winning and losing is at a premium late in games.
“When the game is on the line, I want the ball,” Hodges said. “When everything else isn’t working, I want to be a security blanket. I’m confident in my work ethic. The surrounding cast that I’m about to walk into is great for me.”
When the line of questioning turned to the universal questions of his primary weakness – blocking – Hodges was finished with his initial interview with Vikings beat reporters.
“I don’t want to do any more talking,” Hodges said.
From the sounds of things, Hodges may quickly become a fan favorite because, while most players believe they have the skills to be a difference-maker on the field, Hodges isn’t shy about telling you what he’s going to do and he isn’t in a good humor about being disrespected on draft weekend, which could bode well for those who become newbie Hodges fans.