In his first season as a starter, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson was one of college football’s leaders in pass deflections. Now, heading into his junior year, does Hodges-Tomlinson’s scouting report warrant NFL Draft buzz? For a Horned Frogs team known for its talent in the secondary, the TCU CB might just be the next man up.
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: TCU
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 5’9″
- Weight: 177 pounds
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Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson Scouting Report
I know you’re wondering, so I’ll answer your question now. Yes, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is the nephew of LaDainian Tomlinson, the NFL Hall of Famer who earned Pro Bowl honors five times, All-Pro recognition three times, and won the MVP award in 2006.
While the two Tomlinsons share a family, they don’t share all of the same physical traits. The elder Tomlinson was a bowling ball at 5’10” and 215 pounds. Meanwhile, the younger Hodges-Tomlinson is listed at a light 5’9″and 177 pounds. Nevertheless, are there other similarities that help Hodges-Tomlinson succeed on the defensive side of the ball?
Hodges-Tomlinson’s athletic profile
LaDainian tested with a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 40.5-inch vertical jump back in 2001. His nephew may boast some of the same traits regarding his mobility. Hodges-Tomlinson moves with twitch and constant energy, and he’s supremely explosive out of his direction changes. He gears up with ease, and his feet are swift and urgent.
Hodges-Tomlinson has an intense closing burst at the contact point, which also shows up at the catch. When he’s confident in what he sees, the TCU CB explodes toward the ball. His short-range burst and solid lateral agility enable him to avoid blocks in run defense.
Expanding beyond Hodges-Tomlinson’s explosiveness, he possesses the speed to shadow most receivers into the deep third. Additionally, he’s a dynamic mover — his hips are loose, and he flips his hips easily when tracking receivers downfield. He transfers his weight fairly well and effectively stacks his footwork. His feet are always active, and this helps him stay ready to react.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Hodges-Tomlinson has a dynamic athletic skill set, but he can’t win on physical traits alone because of his lacking size. Thus, the pressure is on the TCU product to maintain consistency from an operational standpoint. Luckily, Hodges-Tomlinson shows promise in this area.
He plays with a steely resolve and is not scared of any challenge. He’ll go toe to toe with 6’6″ tight end Austin Stogner because his competitive mindset doesn’t take any breaks. This also shows up in run defense, where Hodges-Tomlinson remains physical when working to disengage blocks, even if he’s at a constant size disadvantage.
Moving into coverage, Hodges-Tomlinson owns good eye discipline. He lets his feet follow what his eyes see. By extension, he maintains his depth and lets receivers come to him before engaging. He has an excellent balance of patience and zeal, which can be a fine line to walk.
As coverage reps develop, Hodges-Tomlinson is instinctive with his positioning. He has a penchant for tight coverage, and he knows how to compress receivers’ space near the sideline. Furthermore, he has a great sense of timing at the catch point and actively seeks to disrupt with his hands. After the catch, the TCU CB generally takes adequate tackling angles, using his footwork and lateral athleticism to stay square with his target.
Areas for improvement
Hodges-Tomlinson is small for a football player — there’s no getting around it. He’s a stellar athlete, but his size and lack of length naturally concoct several limitations. The TCU CB’s size limits his ability to wrap up ball carriers individually, and he doesn’t have the play strength to win in those situations consistently. By extension, Hodges-Tomlinson doesn’t always wrap up and instead throws himself into players when tackling.
His lacking length hurts in coverage as well. Larger receivers can easily box out the TCU CB and secure catches, preventing him from penetrating the cage and prying passes away. His ball skills, while solid, are naturally limited by his unimposing wingspan. His length also limits his disruption potential in press.
Hodges-Tomlinson’s size is the biggest concern regarding his NFL Draft stock, but he has other things to work on. Most notably, his balance can be inconsistent, both moving downfield and tracking back toward the ball. The TCU product sometimes struggles to work his way toward in-breaking routes, as his momentum can render him flat-footed. His desire to play inside leverage downfield also contributes to this.
Moreover, Hodges-Tomlinson can get a little grabby when working to stick with receivers, especially bigger ones. He can also be baited away from areas by draw fakes, and he occasionally bites too hard on lateral movements, falling behind at the start of the rep.
Hodges-Tomlinson’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Hodges-Tomlinson wasn’t one of the NCAA’s pass-deflection leaders in 2020 by accident. The TCU CB has great movement ability and ball skills. He essentially has the physical profile and demeanor of a gnat. He’s not as big as most receivers, but he’s always buzzing around, right in your face, and he doesn’t care how annoying he might be.
Hodges-Tomlinson’s traits allow him to be sticky in coverage, but there will always be concerns about how his size translates. His length limits his disruption window, and in the NFL, larger boundary receivers with heightened athleticism pose a mismatch. His combination of short-range explosiveness, physicality, and ball skills would make him an exceptional fit for the slot, so Hodges-Tomlinson is somewhat versatile in that respect.
Despite his size, Hodges-Tomlinson should earn Day 2 recognition if he can keep trending up in 2021. His size limits his upside in the NFL Draft, but he has the athleticism, competitive fire, and the playmaking ability to be a defensive contributor.
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson Player Profile
Often, smaller players can go overlooked in the recruiting process. Hodges-Tomlinson did his best to make sure that wouldn’t happen to him. Being the nephew of an NFL great helps a little bit, but the 5’9″, 171-pound Hodges-Tomlinson still had work to do.
The TCU product played safety in high school. Throughout his final two high school seasons, he logged 5 interceptions and 6 deflections while accruing some experience as a kick returner. Hodges-Tomlinson was only a three-star recruit, but his testing numbers — among them a 4.59 40-yard dash and a 39.3-inch vertical — ensured he would receive interest.
The Waco native received scholarship offers from Kansas State and Baylor. Yet, he chose to play for TCU, the same school where his uncle entered the record books two decades prior.
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson’s career at TCU and NFL Draft ascension
Even as a true freshman, Hodges-Tomlinson’s natural gifts enabled him to provide value for the Horned Frogs earlier than expected. The TCU CB played in 12 games in 2019 (one start), notching 8 tackles and a pass deflection.
By themselves, these numbers are modest. But Hodges-Tomlinson’s 2019 performance would pave the way for a breakout 2020 campaign. Jeff Gladney’s departure opened a spot on the starting lineup, and Hodges-Tomlinson filled in. He then proceeded to log 13 pass deflections over the course of the 10-game 2020 season.
Hodges-Tomlinson earned first-team All-Big 12 honors for his play in 2020, as well as second-team All-American recognition. He’s now entering 2021 as one of the most respected defensive backs in the nation.
While Hodges-Tomlinson has won over the college football crowd, NFL evaluators won’t be so easily convinced. The TCU CB’s size will remain a sticking point, but as long as Hodges-Tomlinson can continue to produce, he should hear his name called next April.