Hokies looking towards NFL stardom

by Stephen Dixon–

draft ball
CLEVELAND, Oct. 31, 2016 – 2017 NFL Draft: The NFL Draft, held April 27 through April 30, will be located in Philadelphia for the first time since 1961. Photograph: Associated Press

With the NFL Combine concluding on March 6 and free agency quieting down, all eyes are turned towards the 2017 NFL Draft. Virginia Tech fans have much to look forward to in regards to the draft after a 10-win season. Several players declared, left school early and are projected to be selected in the draft. This post will inform Tech fans on which Hokies the experts predict will be drafted.

BLACKSBURG, March 20 – First Hokie: Bucky Hodges is projected by many scouts to be the first Virginia Tech player taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. Photograph: USA TODAY

First on the list of probable draftees is tight end Bucky Hodges. Standing six feet six inches tall, Hodges will be a matchup nightmare for defenses at the next level. He is too tall to be covered by a cornerback and too athletic to be guarded by a linebacker. His athleticism blew scouts away at the NFL Combine when he ran a 4.57 second 40-yard-dash and broke the combine record with 134-inch broad jump.

The biggest weakness on Hodges’ resume is his poor blocking technique. He was very rarely asked to block in Justin Fuente’s spread offense and will need to improve to handle the physicality of the NFL.

Hodges is widely regarded as a second or third round pick, and is the 74th overall prospect according to CBS.com.

isaiah ford
BLACKSBURG, Sept. 26, 2014 – Leaping Catch:  Isaiah Ford has great hands and an impressive vertical leap, which may transition to a lucrative NFL career. Photograph: Michael Shroyer

Next is Isaiah Ford, a wide receiver who rewrote every career receiving record at Virginia Tech. After three years as a starter, Ford leaves with the most catches (210), receiving touchdowns (24) and receiving yards (2967) in school history. NFL scouts are intrigued in Ford’s play-making ability as he secured several miraculous catches during his collegiate career. He is a solid route runner who knows how to use his hips and feet to create separation from defenders.

Despite a record-setting three seasons at Virginia Tech, scouts are skeptical of his NFL capabilities. His NFL Combine performance was underwhelming with a 4.61 second 40-yard-dash and 14 reps on the bench press. However, most experts still envision him being selected in the third or fourth round.

Several other Hokies are projected to be selected in the later rounds of the draft. Quarterback Jerod Evans, who broke every major passing record at Virginia Tech, is a wildcard as he could go high as the third round or as low as the seventh. Fan-favorite Sam Rogers will likely be taken as a sixth or seventh round pick as a fullback and potential starter on special teams. Safety Chuck Clark, defensive end Ken Ekanem and defensive tackle Woody Baron are three defensive players who may be drafted late or earn opportunities as undrafted free agents.

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