+Good change of direction skills
+Incredible body control
+Good run blocker
+Phenomenal route runner
+Amazing at adjusting to the poorly thrown football
-Doesn’t accelerate quickly
-Mediocre after the catch
As of now, Cody Hoffman is the most underrated player in this draft. Watching him in 2012, as he caught 100 passes for 1248 yards from some of college football’s worst starting quarterbacks, was an incredible sight. He is advanced beyond his years fundamentally and has some of the best body control I have ever seen.
Hoffman has mediocre measurables. He has good height at 6’3, good bulk at 210lbs, and average speed for his size with a 4.56 40 yard dash, according to NFLDraftScout.com. He doesn’t accelerate quickly though and his long speed is only average on film.
Hoffman makes the most out of his physical skill set as a route runner and is pretty good in this respect. His footwork in his routes is simply superb, he uses excellent head fakes to get open, and he is an extremely physical route runner. This last aspect of his game is lost by people in the media. They see Hoffman’s lack of short area burst and mediocre quickness in and out of breaks (which is a problem, since his footwork is perfect and he is still average) and they say he won’t be able to create separation in man coverage at the NFL level. But he does create separation with his physicality. He has mastered moves such as the “push him by” technique and other skills that allow him to use his strength to create separation in man coverage. The technical term for these moves is “offensive pass interference,” but, like Anquan Boldin, he does an extremely good job of hiding the pass interference penalties he commits. The usefulness of these moves seems undervalued to me. From a quickness standpoint, although he may not accelerate quickly, he has ridiculous body control and decelerates instantly. His footwork helps but beyond that he has incredible balance that allows him to stop on a dime, which makes covering him on hitch routes and curls extremely difficult, and he doesn’t lose much speed in and out of cuts. He also finds holes in zone coverage on an extremely consistent basis, and he runs outstanding option routes, which will go a long way in the NFL. He is an extremely smart route runner and he’s polished beyond his years.
Hoffman’s ball skills are probably the best in this draft class. His body control is outstanding, among the best I’ve ever seen, his hands are incredible and consistent and he is ridiculously effective at adjusting to the poorly thrown football. During Hoffman’s junior year, he caught passes from Riley Nelson, who couldn’t even throw a consistent spiral and was never accurate, but Hoffman on a consistent basis adjusted to any pass Nelson threw and not only caught it but never trapped it against his frame. It’s nice to see a guy not body catch the ball but it’s a special skill to catch so many balls that aren’t even spiraling with only your hands. Hoffman has that ability, and it translates to success as a jump ball receiver, where is body control allows him to adjust his body to the perfect position for any football (really good at tracking the ball through the air), leap and use his length to make the catch, to go and get the football instead of waiting for it to come to him. His ridiculously strong hands make stripping the ball from him impossible. His coordination and concentration when fighting for the 50-50 ball is insane, and will go a long way in the NFL. In short, I’ve seen him make more catches on plays when defensive pass interference is called than drops. And that’s pretty incredible.
Hoffman is fairly weak after the catch. He’s less powerful with the ball in his hands and his quickness is fairly mediocre. He has average vision but mediocre long speed with the ball in his hands. He does have extraordinary balance and can make incredible plays along the sideline.
Hoffman is an outstanding blocker. He uses his long arms and excellent toughness to dominate in this respect, plus he is very strong. He uses very good fundamentals as a blocker and creates a fairly wide base. He’s very good at engaging in blocks as well, and his effort is consistent.
Ultimately, I love Hoffman. He’s very polished and his outstanding ability with the ball in the air will take him a long way in the NFL. He’s not the most athletic guy, but he will excel.
NFL Comparison: It might sound crazy, but an Jordy Nelson comparison isn’t that far off the mark. Think about it. Same size, both can make any catch in the red zone if it so please them, amazing body control, outstanding hands, can adjust to the poorly thrown football, can commit pass interference but hide it really well, always finds holes in zone coverage. Nelson is definitely better after the catch than Hoffman, and he’s also faster. Conveniently, I’ve already compared a player to Jordy Nelson except worse after the catch: Nick Toon. So far, Toon hasn’t emerged as the sleeper I expected him to be, but this was just his second season. I still believe in Toon, and Hoffman is like Toon but a tad stronger.
Grade: 87 (worthy of an early second round pick)
Projection: 66 (will be a mid fourth round pick)