by Rob Staton
This is one to watch for Seahawks fans in 2010. The focal point of Florida State’s offensive line, Hudson is the prototype interior lineman for Alex Gibbs’ zone blocking scheme. He’s had starting experience as a center, tackle and guard but would project best as a left guard partner for Russell Okung in Seattle. He’s a first team All-American (2009) and two-time All-ACC lineman (2008, 2009). NFL Draft Scout’s Chris Steuber told me before the 2010 draft that Hudson could’ve been a first round pick this year, but he opted to complete his senior campaign with the Seminoles. Mel Kiper recently paired the Seahawks with Hudson in his ‘Next April’s pick now’ segment. In 2010, the 21-year-old will be charged with protecting quarterback Christian Ponder – himself a potential candidate to be a first round pick next year.
Name: Rodney Hudson #62
Birthplace: Mobile, Alabama
Position: Offensive Guard
The Opposition: North Carolina’s defense is one of the highest rated going into the 2010 season and it was already performing at a high level last year. Hudson had to deal with massive interior presence Marvin Austin and potential top-10 pick DE Robert Quinn off the edge. Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant are two of the better linebackers in college football. Deunta Williams is the other big name on the UNC defense – he’s a ball hawking safety but slightly over rated because he benefits more from his teammates than they do from his influence. Aside from power-houses like Florida and Alabama, this was as tough as it comes for Hudson and the Seminoles.
Athletic ability: Hudson is light at 285lbs and allows him to use above average athletic qualities for an interior lineman. Bends knees well enough to initiate leverage and won a lot of individual battles. Short and long range quickness is very good, allowing him to explode off the line in short yardage situations and equally pull and run. His mobility to get to the second level is excellent and he did a good job in this game locating a secondary block and executing. Florida State used a lot of screen passes, with Hudson pulling from the line and used as the lead blocker. Has excellent footwork, again in no part down to his compact size.
Run blocking: Has surprising strength at the point of attack for a smaller lineman. Actually does as good a job as someone twenty-pounds heavier. The vast majority of run plays were called to the left, with Hudson often capable of creating some pretty big holes. On a QB sneak in the third quarter, Christian Ponder tucked in behind Hudson to get a key first down. Second level blocking is excellent and athletic qualities were clearly evident when he pulled wide. A willing cut-blocker but technique could use refining.
Pass blocking: In the third quarter 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. Understands when he needs to switch blockers and often did a great job in pass protection helping the left tackle. Initial power at the point of attack allows him to punch back and then switch. Mobility and footwork could actually be good enough for Hudson to play tackle but size negates likelihood of that happening.
Intelligence: Pure football smarts and understands his role completely. Hudson has some experience at center and in this game flashed his ability to diagnose defensive reads. Reports confirm Hudson’s intelligence and he should have less trouble than most picking up the zone blocking scheme if drafted by the Seahawks. Blitz pick-up was excellent.
Motor: Showed a nasty nature and appears to enjoy blocking. Played with a high-tempo throughout the game and never relented. Willingness to get to the next level again and again shows that he doesn’t settle and rarely has a play off.
Physical attributes: Teams using a man-blocking scheme will be concerned with Hudson’s lack of size. He’s not tall, so the 285lbs frame hasn’t got that much room to grow. If he added the 15lbs minimum that some teams would like to see, that might jeopardise his quickness and mobility. Hudson is, however, a perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme which would make good use of his ability to diagnose situations quickly, speed, footwork and surprising power.
Summary: Offensive lineman can be over rated sometimes. The premium nature of the tackle position has, undoubtedly, led to some examples of over-drafting in recent years. Such is the demand for blind side blockers. Interior lineman also get over rated because in reality so few go in round one and people are always looking for the next Steve Hutchinson. The 2009 draft was the exception, with an undoubted top-20 talent like Alex Mack available and Eric Wood also going in the first round. Duke Robinson (over rated by many leading up to the 09′ draft) dropped to a more realistic 5th round grade. Hudson, for me, warrants any hype thrown his way. Whilst some teams will not consider drafting him due to a lack of size, teams using zone blocking elements will watch Hudson’s 2010 campaign with interest. He has the potential to go in round one and as we prepare for the new college season and he deserves a first/second round grade at this early stage.
Highlights of Hudson vs North Carolina