Oregon State football had been lacking excitement ever since star wideout Brandin Cooks went to the NFL. Isaiah Hodgins became the next great OSU receiver and would be a great Day 3 sleeper pick for the New York Jets.
Dominating deep threat Brandin Cooks had a beautiful connection with quarterback Sean Mannion at Oregon State. The Beavers had been missing that kind of game-breaking duo from 2014 to 2018, but in 2019, the chemistry was found once again in Corvallis. Part of it may be available for the New York Jets to draft early on Day 3.
Hodgins stood out as of the best receivers in a PAC-12 group that had plenty of competition. It’s not just his performance in the FBS that makes him an attractive mid-round pick for Gang Green. The attributes that made Hodgins the player he was, fit in with what the Jets are trying to do with the offense.
First, Hodgins’ catch radius is ridiculous. This is something the New York Jets offense missed last year. His catch radius, tracking ability, and long-frame would be ideal for the Jets offense because they need somebody who has a chance of bringing down contested jump balls.
Sure, Hodgins certainly needs to work on his physicality. The rest of the aforementioned skills that Hodgins possesses create an option for 50/50 balls. Gang Green needs this type of addition to their receiver corps, because of quarterback Sam Darnold‘s gunslinger mentality. Darnold is going to be aggressive as always and needs a receiver who fits that type of passing game as well as one that will try to be more vertical in 2020.
Head Coach Adam Gase has made it clear early this offseason that he wants Darnold to stay in the pocket more than he did in 2019. Unfortunately, the New York Jets offensive line is still a work in progress. Therefore, we’re going to see Darnold extending plays constantly, just like he did last year.
One of Hodgins’ biggest issues is that it takes him a little bit to accelerate. His speed and footwork isn’t the problem, but his long strides cause a delay in him reaching his top speed.
Darnold has proven he knows how to buy time in the pocket, and therefore, will be able to be patient with Hodgins when he’s running his routes. Also, one of Darnold’s biggest issues was decision making while he’s under immense pressure. If he has someone who can grab a 50/50 ball, his decision making will become clearer, which leads to more confidence.
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As for Hodgins’ long-term prospects, his improvement in Corvallis speaks volumes about his coachability and room for growth at the next level. He went from 31 catches to 59, to 86 in his three seasons at Oregon State. The more opportunities he received, the more he produced. Hodgins yardage total also went up from 275 yards to 876, and all the way to almost 1,200 last season. He also went from two scores to five, and then 13 in his dominant 2019 campaign.
A receiver like Hodgins is needed for Darnold’s development. Gase appears to be actively trying to ruin Darnold’s career. The resilient QB hasn’t let that happen and has held himself accountable for the passing game.
If the coaching is going to be abysmal, the New York Jets need to improve offensive personnel in the draft. With Hodgins, they can find a great fit later on in the draft.