Gerald Hodges, a fourth-round pick from Penn State, wants to be a starting linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings entering the 2013 season. The former safety converted to linebacker after injuries to former Penn State linebackers Navarro Bowman and Sean Lee – both starting linebackers in the NFL.
At 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, Hodges has the measurables to play outside linebacker at the NFL level. Most fourth-round picks make the team based on special teams and roster depth.
“For sure,” Hodges told 1500espn.com regarding playing special teams. “I’ll do whatever I can. I’m just going to continue working hard with two of the greatest linebacker coaches.
Playing special teams usually signifies a backup role due to the high level of intensity and injury risk. Hodges wouldn’t mind playing special teams if that secures him a roster spot, but he is aiming to be a day one starter for the Vikings.
“But my mindset isn’t to come in and be a backup,” Hodges said.
Hodges went to Penn State expecting to play safety which gives him unique coverage skills for a linebacker, something the Vikings require for linebackers in their cover-2 defense. He was often lined up with receivers and tight ends in his senior season with the Nittany Lions.
“Playing safety and learning how to flip your hips, I feel I’ll be able to run with the guys who aren’t as fast as receivers or slots,” Hodges said. “I’ve got a pretty good feel for covering tight ends, I covered them all last year.”