The NFL Scouting Combine began this week and it’s a big one for several former Virginia Tech stars. Bucky Hodges, Isaiah Ford, Jerod Evans, Sam Rogers, Ken Ekanem and Chuck Clark will all represent Tech in Indianapolis this weekend.
As for the draft, Hodges and Ford are the two players to watch. While neither will likely be drafted in the first round, both could very well be picked on the draft’s second day. Hodges is the perfect player in today’s NFL. He’s a tight end because of his size, but he’s more of a receiver. Think of a much less polished Jordan Reed. No, Hodges isn’t Reed, but he’s a player that can move all around the line of scrimmage and create mismatches. That’s important in the NFL.
Ford, Virginia Tech’s all-time leading receiver, is among several pass-catchers hoping to be drafted in the second or third round. Wide receivers ran the 40-yard dash on Saturday morning and it was a bit disappointing for Ford, who ran 4.62. Too much stock is put into the 40, but for receivers and defensive backs, it is of greater importance. Fortunately for Ford, several other receivers ran slower times, too.
For as disappointing as his 40 times may have been, Ford showed his skills in the gauntlet, catching everything at every angle. He’s a football player. Go watch the film. For Ford, this weekend is about meeting different teams and making an impression upon them, which he will surely do.
This weekend is huge for Evans. This is a quarterback class that isn’t particularly strong. If he can show coaches he can make all the throws, with accuracy, and impress coaches and decision-makers in the brief meetings with teams, he could go from a guy who isn’t expected to be drafted, to being picked anywhere from the fifth to seventh round.
The combine isn’t for players like Rogers. The four-year starter and captain isn’t going to wow anyone. His 40 (4.93) proved as much. But that doesn’t matter. Rogers is a jack-of-all-trades who can help a team in his rookie year whether he’s drafted or undrafted. He will make a team in 2017 and contribute right away. He, much like Ford, is special.
Sam Rogers 1st forty 4.93, 10 yd of 1.72— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) March 3, 2017
Clark and Ekanem are both longtime starters on Bud Foster’s lunch pail defense. While neither will be high picks, both are in the mix to be drafted. For players like Clark and Ekanem, the combine is important. Can Clark show the explosiveness needed to play defensive back in the NFL? He certainly possesses the experience and his versatility, moving between corner and safety, should help him.
Ekanem, much like prior Tech pass rushers, is a bit of a tweener. Is he a defensive end (like in Blacksburg) or a 3-4 outside linebacker? Ekanem must show teams he can play as a stand-up linebacker and impress in some of the change-of-direction drills. He was a solid player for the Hokies and has a chance this weekend to stand out in a strong class of pass rushers.
The running backs had the stage on Friday for on-field drills and Rogers finished with 19 reps in the bench press, posted a 32-inch vertical leap and a 114-inch broad jump.
Saturday will feature quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends. So, it will be a busy day for the Hokies. Sunday features the linebackers and defensive linemen, while Monday will wrap things up with the defensive backs.
Good luck to these six former Hokies.