KhaDarel Hodge started as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Prairie View A&M to suiting up for the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl. The talented and underrated receiver is looking to expand his value in year two. We preview Hodge in the first of many wide receiver profiles.
It was one to remember in the grand scheme of things for KhaDarel Hodge. The UDFA receiver found his stride in preseason last year making a handful of jaw-dropping plays. The lack of consistent talent at the quarterback position arguably held back even more of what Hodge could have displayed in the preseason. However, Hodge made the most of his reps, the coaches were watching and he made the 53-man roster. Of course, it wasn’t instant, Hodge was cut initially and signed to the Los Angeles Rams practice squad. It was there, Hodge propelled up to the 53-man roster only a few weeks later.
Hodge wasn’t a big-time contributor on the offense but that wasn’t the plan for the Rams. The Rams have a stable group of receivers however, Hodge excelled as a gunner on special teams as he racked up five tackles on the season. He did add to that with two receptions on the year that went for 17 yards. The big thing for Hodge was his appearance in 14 regular-season games and every postseason game. That inclusion was huge for the young undrafted rookie and will be even bigger moving forward.
While I believe that Hodge is going to make the 53-man roster this year, it’s hard to argue he doesn’t have competition. All you have to do is look at the depth chart. Players like Austin Proehl, Alex Bachman, Mike Thomas, JoJo Natson, Jalen Greene, N’Simba Webster, and Johnathan Lloyd are all vying for a spot. The benefit in this battle for Hodge is the experience. That not only helps Hodge as a player but helps him with the coaches. When the coaching staff goes to cut down the roster they will remember when Hodge went to war for them in the Super Bowl. They will remember when Hodge came down with the 47-yard diving catch in the preseason and they will remember that he was part of a magical 13-3 season.
Hodge will have even more of an opportunity this year with a great backup quarterback in Blake Bortles. Since Hodge made the team last year and played in 14 games. One would assume that Hodge is in the running to start the preseason at receiver. If Hodge starts and gets to catch passes from Bortles, there’s a good chance he’s going to solidify himself on the roster fairly quickly.
Will KhaDarel Hodge snatch a role in the passing game?
Sorry, but I’ve already penciled in Hodge’s name on my ballot to make the team. I want more out of the Prairie View A&M talent. I see more to be entirely honest. Hodge has abilities as a receiver and so I think he can be the fifth receiver behind the core four of Woods, Kupp, Cooks, and Reynolds. That’s why my biggest question in regards to Hodge is about being a part of the passing game.
One thing that we’ve seen with the Rams is how the in-house players get rewarded for their dirty work on special teams. We watched Cory Littleton earn a starting linebacker role. We watched Bryce Hager, Cody Davis, Rodney McLeod, Marqui Christian, and Blake Countess among others crack the starting lineup in some facet due to their exceptional play on special teams. The next one in line to do so would be Hodge.
Now, if Hodge does ever have an increased role in the offense that could be in response to a major injury to a player you can’t afford to lose. However, Hodge is talented enough to have a spot in this offensive no matter how small it is. I want him to take that next step this year and snatch a spot. The question is…can he?
2019 Outlook and Role
I think going into 2019, Hodge is a player that will be looking to evolve his game as a special teamer but also add a little bit to the offense. He had two catches last year, I suspect the Los Angeles Rams might use him more as he even logged a snap on offense in the Super Bowl. It’s a big deal that he’s here, that he’s been on the field with the first-team and that he excels on special teams. Once you show the coaching staff you can do the little things, that can go a long way.
One thing that would make Hodge a lock for the lineup would be an advancement as a returner to add to his resume. The Rams are still fielding tryouts in-house to be their kick returner after Blake Countess was let go of. JoJo Natson is the leader in the clubhouse but he surely wouldn’t have much of a spot if Hodge came in and excelled as a returner.
Chance of Making the Final Roster
Now, I know I just say he would be a lock if he could return. I also know that I said he is making the team in my ballot. However, it’s not a 100 percent guarantee. For that reason, I give Hodge an 88 percent shot of making the roster. I think the Rams are higher on Hodge than most expect. My concern for Hodge is the fact that guys like Mike Thomas are still around and are having great camps. Thomas could have a serious play in bouncing Hodge out of the picture. Keep in mind, no matter how well he plays, it’s all up to the Rams decision. They haven’t always gone with the playmakers on the TV screen over the grinders in training camp. Luckily for Hodge, that shouldn’t matter because he is a little bit of both.