Round 3: Khalil Hodge, ILB, Buffalo
*Written by Donnie Druin*
The interior of Pittsburgh’s linebacking corps can be categorized as merely “good”, as Jon Bostic and Vince Williams are playing well. Yet with Bostic only on a two year deal, Shazier still unlikely to return and Tyler Matakevich obviously not the long term answer, the Steelers may look to the draft as a means of finding a youthful solution to turn their good room of linebackers into potentially great.
Insert Khalil Hodge out of Buffalo. Hodge has had quite the 2018 campaign, amassing 138 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss along with 1.5 sacks as well. Hodge’s best abilities reside within his reliable play between the tackles, as he grades out as one of the best run-stopping linebackers in the upcoming draft.
Two great attributes that many covet about Hodge are his intangibles and football intelligence, something the Steelers organization prides themselves in when selecting players. What prevents Hodge from elevating himself to the first two rounds of the NFL Draft? Hodge isn’t superb in pass coverage, a task the Steelers often ask out of their linebackers. Hodge’s sideline to sideline speed is also questioned, but seldom to linebackers enter the league with that trait.
Overall, Hodge is a great linebacker prospect. Pittsburgh should surely be looking to bolster their inside linebacker depth in the middle rounds of the draft, and should Hodge find himself still on the board, the Steelers could get their linebacker of the future here. Besides, Buffalo has a great track record churning out linebackers with the first name Khalil.