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Analyzing Devlin Hodges’ Rookie Season, Part 1: The Numbers

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Devlin Hodges season can really be boiled down to a few key stats.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the final game of the season in the books I sat down to do an analysis of the week 17 matchup against the Ravens, and when I got done looking at the game, I had a Devlin Hodges film room worth of clips, and a lot of it was about the situations he was in, and the way Baltimore defended him. So instead of just looking at the film, I want to start by showing the final numbers on Devlin Hodges, and specifically where Devlin Hodges was the strongest and where he was the weakest. Part 2 will look at the film and dig into my thoughts on why Devlin Hodges got these results, and what his potential is for the future.


Devlin Hodges, the game manager

Devlin Hodges, even as a rookie that wasn’t being prepared to start until he was the starter, is a solid game manager. Hodges completes a high percentage of short passes, and converts a high percentage of shorter yardage 3rd downs.

With a tied score or a lead, Devlin Hodges completed 53 of his 71 short pass attempts for a 74.6 completion percentage. That ranks 5th in the NFL among passers with 50+ attempts. His efficiency drops off substantially when the Steelers were trailing though, with 57.9% completions, which ranks 42nd among NFL QBs with 50+ short passes when trailing.

On third downs, with 7 or fewer yards to go, Devlin Hodges threw 25 passes, and was sacked once. He converted 14 of those 26 attempts for first downs, giving him a 53.85 conversion rate, good for 6th in the NFL (among passers with at least 10 attempts). On third and 8+ Hodges threw 35 passes and was sacked once. He converted 6 of those 36 attempts for a 16.7 conversion rate. The only players with 25+ attempts and a lower percentage of 3rd and 8+ conversions were Kyle Allen and Dwayne Haskins. If you drop into the lower number of attempts the ghost of Eli Manning and the secret to getting a #1 pick Josh Rosen show up, along with a host of QBs that played for a very short time before being replaced.

A decent number of rookies were close to Devlin Hodges on longer third downs, with Daniel Jones and Kyler Murray both right around 20%. While Hodges was behind other rookie QBs in converting third and long, he was the #2 rookie in the NFL at converting 3rd and 7 or less, with Daniel Jones coming in at 5th overall.

When the Steelers were able to set Devlin Hodges up with short third downs he was able to convert those downs at an elite level. But when they couldn’t keep it reasonable he was among the worst in the NFL. Which, when you look at Daniel Jones stats in the same situations, doesn’t look bad at all.


Small victories, big failures

Devlin Hodges only attempted 14 redzone passes this season, converting 6 of them for 2 TDs and 1 INT. That’s not great, but what is quite good is his first down percentage. With 0 sacks and 6 passing first downs in the redzone, Hodges ranks 3rd in the NFL in first down percentage in the red zone.

But first downs, while good, are not TDs. And while Devlin Hodges may rank highly in converting first downs when it’s third and short or in the red zone, his TD rate in the redzone is awful, ranking 41st out of 45 QBs with at least 10 redzone attempts.

Again we see Devlin Hodges as a player that can win the small, easier battles, but can’t get the offense big plays.

This continues when you look at Hodges TD and INT rates for the season. Hodges passed for 5 TDs and 8 INTs this season. With 160 pass attempts, that’s a 3.1% TD rate and a 5% INT rate. Among qualified leaders (224 attempts) only Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton rank lower on TD%, while Hodges 5% interceptions is worse than every qualified passer. The most attempts with a higher INT rate comes from Bryan Hoyer, who threw 4 interceptions in his 65 pass attempts.

So while Hodges was efficient at converting reasonable situations for first downs, he was never a QB that was making big plays, and he was a QB that was making big mistakes.


Looking forward. . .

While there is a lot to draw from Devlin Hodges stats, statistics cannot tell the whole story. Especially when we are forced to rely on smaller sample sizes. In the second part of this Devlin Hodges rookie season wrap-up, we are going to look for reasons why these stats are what they are, and how opposing defenses attacked Devlin Hodges to exploit his weaknesses.