Could The Lions See A Familiar Face To The NFC North At Linebacker.
Gerald Hodges is very familiar with the NFC North and could welcome another stint there but this time in Honolulu blue. The 26 year old converted safety out of Penn State was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 4th round in 2013 and played the first three seasons of his career there. Hodges was trapped deep in their absolutely loaded depth chart however and was eventually traded to the San Fransisco 49ers prior to last season for center Nick Easton and a 6th round pick. Since getting more opportunity Hodges has time and again continued to prove his worth, growing into a reliable contributor for a San Fransisco defense with little in the way of talent. Managing to rack up 83 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions, he showed the type of production that teams are looking for in a potential long-term starter. Just now entering his prime, Hodges will draw the eye of a lot of teams looking for an inside or middle linebacker at a reasonable price this off-season.
What Can Gerald Hodges Bring To The Table?
Hodges is one of the few available linebackers in free agency this year that can both cover and defend the run competently, which instantly makes him a fantastic target for Detroit when you look at the rest of a bleak group. He’s got solid speed and athleticism allowing him to run with tight ends and shiftier running backs in space for man coverage, and the positional awareness to control an area for zone looks. In the run game, Hodges has developed from a coverage heavy guy to a well rounded player that can thump running backs in the middle and has shown more strength and willingness to get downfield in a hurry and lay the wood. Furthermore he has shown big play ability, being able to shed blocks off offensive linemen and get to the quarterback as well as showcasing the hands to bring down errant throws and create turnovers. Add to that the fact that he can very well still have room to grow as a player and Hodges could be a very interesting target for the Lions to consider this off-season.
Why Might Gerald Hodges Be Available?
Whenever there’s a major regime change, there’s always player turnover and some strong talent always manages to slip through the cracks. Factoring in a scheme change on defense drastically increases that probability as well and the 49’ers are going through both those things right now. With the 49ers already having numerous decent linebackers in the fold, a few recently resigned, and a star that can anchor the position group in Navaro Bowman they are already pretty full at the position. While most of the guys they have aren’t as good as Hodges, San Fransisco may consider a player like him an unnecessary luxury while they try to address numerous other concerns throughout their team and adjust to their new 4-3 scheme.
Bottom Line On Gerald Hodges
Gerald Hodges is the exact type of reliable, do it all modern linebacker mold that could work beautifully in a larger role. While he has succeeded at every opportunity he’s gotten thus far in the league, what Detroit would be asking of him is on another level. It remains to be seen at this point whether Hodges has the capability to handle the role of a 4-3 MLB, especially with the amount of two linebacker looks Teryl Austin has liked to use in the past. That being said Hodges has shown all the tools necessary to take on that position if the Lions decide to go that route, and the best part is he could very well be had at a relative bargain. While many teams are looking at him as an exciting potential option, his lack of experience should push his value down a little versus some of the other top tier linebackers available this off-season. A four year deal worth $3.5-4 million a year could very well lock him up and for a slightly above average player with upside that’s a great price. If the Lions decide to buy a little early on Hodges before other teams catch on they could end up handsomely rewarded.