Oregon State has fallen on rough times in recent years. Since Brandin Cooks and Sean Mannion left, the program has struggled to produce NFL-caliber talent, with only three prospects drafted in the last four NFL Drafts and none in the last two. However, star wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins will change that with a breakout junior season.
Hodgins had been on some NFL radars after an All-Pac-12 sophomore campaign, where he led all Oregon State receivers in most receiving categories. Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline gave him a FA grade over the summer. After dominant performances to start 2019 in games against Oklahoma State, Stanford, and UCLA, Hodgins has stamped himself as a legit NFL prospect for the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.
Hodgins isn’t a player like Cooks or John Ross on the field with legit 4.3 speed, but he’s still a quality deep-threat option. He’s a bit of a long strider, so it takes him time to reach full speed, but Hodgins can still eat up ground quickly if defensive backs aren’t careful.
UCLA’s Darnay Holmes is one of the most athletic playmakers at the cornerback position in the country, but here, Hodgins toasts him for an easy touchdown.
Have a day Isaiah Hodgins! That's 3 scores for the junior and our lead is 41-24. pic.twitter.com/lyiuAZY7Hg
— Oregon State Football News (@BeaverFBNews) October 6, 2019
Where Hodgins truly shines is in his ability catching the ball. Hodgins has a huge catch radius and is one of those “see ball, get ball” receivers. He has ideal height and length for the receiver position at 6’4. Hodgins also has elite concentration in traffic to make some incredible catches, like this one down below.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 30, 2019
— Oregon State Football (@BeaverFootball) November 17, 2018
Hodgins’ body control and catch radius show up big time in the red zone. He makes his money on OBJ-like catches and dominates that area of the field. These catches are going to be on every NFL Draft highlight reel, as he makes these look effortless.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) October 10, 2019
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) October 27, 2018
Hodgins is an elite playmaker for the Beavers and the country is starting to notice. He is one of the hottest names for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the best wide receiver in college football (former Oregon State star and now Los Angeles Ram Brandin Cooks won the award in 2013). Hodgins is one of five receivers in the country with more than 40 receptions and 500 yards.
He’s among the nation’s leaders in almost every statistical receiving category. He’s the leading receiver in points responsible for per game at 10.8 (ahead of prominent quarterbacks like Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Utah State’s Jordan Love). His name has shot up NFL Draft boards with his high level of play this season.
Despite these positive developments, Hodgins does have some things to improve in his game, namely in his routes. He has a tendency to round out his breaks and loses some juice when he does so. With his build, however, I don’t believe he will ever be able to drop his hips as quickly and as effectively as smaller receivers, which limits his growth in this area. He also needs to show more physicality as he takes on press coverage, as he can get pushed around when faced with true press coverage.
With these limitations, and with Hodgins not being a D.K. Metcalf-like freak with his athleticism, his upside into the NFL is likely just slightly above average. He’s at his best when he can be used as a deep threat and a red zone target, but I would not ask him to be much more than that, which limits his ceiling. However, I think he can be an effective weapon if used properly. I compared him to another Los Angeles Ram in Josh Reynolds, and I give Hodgins a Round 3-4 grade in the upcoming NFL Draft.