Friday, 23 October 2009

Rodney Hudson - a guard worth scouting

I was recently asked for some thoughts on Florida State interior lineman Rodney Hudson and as luck would have it, FSU were in action last night against North Carolina. The perfect opportunity therefore, to scout the Seminoles' starting left guard. A lot of people talk about Seattle's need for a left tackle and clearly that has been the case this year - the Seahawks may start their fifth choice at the position at Dallas in week eight. However, I personally feel that there's a more pressing issue through the middle.

When Sean Locklear is healthy, I think he actually could be a more than adequate left tackle in the NFL. Since Mike Wahle's retirement, the Seahawks have been using (injury allowing) Rob Sims, Mansfield Wrotto and Steve Vallos at left guard. The center position is also a potential cause for concern in the future with Chris Spencer a free agent in 2010 and Max Unger has been starting as a rookie. Simply put, the interior line is arguably more insecure than Seattle's situation at tackle.

Trying to find good quality interior lineman in the draft can be difficult. Last year was an exception when guys like Alex Mack and Eric Wood went in the first round. Having said that, I was suitably impressed when I watched Rodney Hudson today. He's only a junior, so won't necessarily declare for the 2010 draft. If he does however, he's worth keeping an eye on.

For starters, he's a good scheme fit. Seattle favors nimble, athletic lineman who don't have elite size or strength, but can move around in a zone blocking scheme. At 285lbs he isn't huge and he's not the tallest. He has surprising strength at the point of attack though and is more than capable of stretching wide, showing good footwork. On screen passes yesterday he was regularly getting into the second level as a lead blocker.

FSU regularly called running plays to the left knowing Hudson was capable of creating big holes to attack. On a QB sneak in the third quarter, Christian Ponder tucked in behind Hudson to get a key first down. Shortly after, he was able to block off and support the left tackle (who'd been beaten by a defensive end on the edge). Hudson recognised the situation and before the DE could get to Ponder, he levelled him almost sending him to the turf.

Hudson has some experience at center and is capable of diagnosing defensive reads, but he's since moved to left guard which appears to be a more natural fit. He shouldn't have any difficulty picking up the more difficult functions of the ZBS.

NFL Draft Scout ranks Hudson as the best interior lineman amongst his peers and gives him a second round grade. He was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the week during a win over Brigham Young in week three.

Mocking Dan had some high praise for Hudson after last night: "Junior Rodney Hudson might be the best guard in the nation. He's athletic for an interior linemen and really understands leverage."

As we've already mentioned, it's no guarantee he'll declare for next year's draft. However, it's worth keeping an eye on this FSU prospect over the next few weeks. It's not often you see a young interior lineman who really stands out in the college game, but in Hudson we've found one. He's a good fit for Seattle's scheme with big potential.

1 comment:

1stHill said...

Great article!! I really enjoy reading about players kind of unknown and off the radar. I recorded that game and will be sure to keep an eye on him.