Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2009 Round 6 #197 – Dallas Cowboys – S Stephen Hodge

With the 24th pick in the 6th round, the Dallas Cowboys take another safety, another athlete who played his college ball in Texas, and another Stephen:  TCU’s Stephen Hodge. says he’s a “tweener.”


Earned second-team All-Mountain West honors as a junior after being a special teams coverage leader his first two seasons. Hodge followed that up with a first-team All-Mountain West performance as a senior, making 91 tackles including 10 for loss. His eight sacks led all Football Bowl Subdivision defensive backs in 2007, though he basically played linebacker in TCU’s defense and blitzed often. The question for NFL teams will be whether he’s a safety, weak-side linebacker or a special teams player.

High School

Regarded as one of the top athletes in East Texas … Played quarterback and defensive back for coach Andy Evans at Tatum High School … Led the Eagles to 28 wins in 38 varsity starts over three years … Also handled the punting chores … As a junior he rushed for more than 2,000 yards and passed for more than 1,600 yards, combining for 45 touchdowns, earning district MVP honors … As a senior he completed 105-of-160 passes for 1,471 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions and rushed for 1,561 yards and 19 touchdowns in a 12-2 campaign to earn district MVP honors for a second time … In three seasons he rushed for more than 4,000 yards and 51 touchdowns while passing for nearly 4,500 yards and 48 scores … Member of the Star-Telegram’s State 100 list … Ranked 56th on the state 100 list by … On the’s East Texas all-Underclassmen team and on their 2004 All-East team … Ran a 4.4 40-yard dash … Also excelled in baseball and basketball … Considered Baylor, Houston, Missouri, Texas A&M and SMU before deciding on TCU.


Strengths: Adequate height with stocky, strong safety build and long arms. … Big hitter who will lay the wood when the ballcarrier is lined up in his sights. … Finds his way through traffic inside to attack the ball. … Quick in his drop and can handle zone coverage outside at the second level. … Hustles downfield and reads screens quickly. … Could be a special teams force at the next level, like he was early in his college career, due to his secure tackling and aggressive nature.

Weaknesses: Safety-linebacker “tweener.” … Plays in the box most of the time in the 3-3-5 defense, basically as a linebacker. … Is not as physical as he should be. … Runs around blocks because he has trouble getting off them. … High and choppy in his backpedal. … Takes poor angles at times and does not have the fluid hips or lateral speed to handle man coverage responsibilities. … Statistics inflated by aggressive TCU defensive scheme that had him constantly blitzing.

Scouts, Inc. gives him a horrible grade, saying he was the 19th best OLB in the draft. Otherwise, he’s far enough down the depth chart that they don’t even have a grade for him.

In the unkindest cut of all, Tim MacMahon dubs him “a Roy Williams-type of safety” and muses “Many experts projected him to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. Not sure how he’ll fit in the Phillips 3-4.” Considering the Cowboys put the actual Roy Williams-type safety on the street during the offseason, a good question.  MacMahon adds,

This line from his NFL Draft Scout report could explain the Cowboys’ thinking behind the pick: “Could be a special teams force at the next level, like he was early in his college career, due to his secure tackling and aggressive nature.”

Rather clearly, the Cowboys are drafting for backups and niche needs in this draft rather than going with the “best available athlete” that all the experts counsel.  The Cowboys have spent an entire draft picking special teamers and backups.

Shades of 1995, indeed.

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