NAME: DaMarkus Lodge
SCHOOL: Ole Miss
POSITION: Wide Receiver
JERSEY: No. 5
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 199 lbs
Separation Quickness – Difficult trait to gauge for Lodge, as the vast majority of his routes are run in a vertical plane, with very few in or out-cutting routes against man coverage. Has the athletic traits to project well in this area, and varies his speed to lull defenders to sleep before bursting into his route. Has shown the ability to create a window on slant patterns when he does run them.
Speed/Burst – Easy acceleration off the line of scrimmage and legit long speed to separate over the top of a defense. At least a 4.4 guy. Can go from 0-60 in a split-second, and long strides continue to gain ground to detach from coverage vertically at the last moment. Speed is a great asset to have, but Lodge is developed in his sense of how to utilize his gift as well.
Route-Running – In Ole Miss’ offense, the vast majority of his routes are run on a vertical plane. Nine routes, comebacks, curls and hitches, with the occasional slant thrown in there. Rarely operates outside of this structure, which limits his evaluation to some degree. However, the level of attention Lodge shows as a vertical route runner is highly encouraging when projecting out the rest of his game. Knows how to work a corner’s blind spot and uses his hands masterfully down the field to create subtle separation. Physical despite a slighter frame.
Contested Catch – Creates terrific separation with elevation and flexibility in the air, and has shown strong hands and a long catch radius to finish outside his frame, even through contact. Inconsistent in his technique and high-point ability however, will let the ball into his frame and can struggle to overpower bigger and longer corners in the air. I think the ability is there, but lack of consistent finishing leaves you wanting a little more.
YAC – Given very few opportunities to do much after the catch in Ole Miss’ offense, as he only gets a couple manufactured targets every year. Still, when given the chance to square up to the defense, has shown elusiveness, burst and the fight and physicality to work through contact to pick up yardage after the catch. Might be the most underrated part of his game based on the glimpses he’s shown.
Blocking – Terrific blocker who gets his hands inside, sinks his hips and runs his feet through contact. Physical and aggressive, takes his blocking seriously and often drives his opponent to the boundary. Will look for work in YAC situations by his fellow teammates. Strength in this area should translate to early playing time.
Competitive Toughness – Super tough, super physical. Strong in his routes, physical in his releases and a high-effort blocker. Competes for any ball in his vicinity. Doesn’t loaf and runs every route hard, even when running corners off in the run game.
Athleticism/Size – Lodge looks like an excellent athlete with terrific speed on tape, and his athletic testing should back that up. I can’t see him disappointing in any category. On the other hand, his frame is rather slight and hitting 200-205 could be big for him, but his physical style of play does belie a bigger receiver.
BEST TRAIT – Releases
RED FLAGS – None
DaMarkus Lodge is the least heralded of the three Ole Miss wide receivers, but if you told me in a few years he’d be the best of the group, I wouldn’t be surprised. Lodge is the most polished and pro-ready of the trio, from his bevy of releases against press coverage to his body control along the boundary and his blocking on the perimeter. The peak plays from Lodge are incredible, due to both his exceptional ball skills and blazing speed, but he has to become a more consistent finisher in the air and cut down on the drops. There will also be a learning curve for him as a route runner thanks to Ole Miss’ system, but Lodge has all the traits and refined technique to reach a tremendous peak in the NFL.
Route Running – For his size and length, Lodge has elastic breaks as he’s loose in his midsection. Can snap off his route and break into any direction, but rarely asked to run in-breaking routes at Ole Miss. His traits suggest that he’ll fit into a fuller route tree, as he’s efficient on horizontal cuts and through curls and comebacks. Vertical cuts are quick and seamless. Patient yet sudden on his releases, absolutely abusing press coverage. Anticipates the jam well, and versatile in his hand usage. Movements work together when he works to disengage. Works to recycle hands, showing consciousness in his disengagement. Unique in his approaches which makes defensive backs uncomfortable and jumpy. Consistently wins inside and outside releases. Aggressively attacks downhill when necessary, creating consistent separation. Extremely good at finding the curl window. Does an excellent job of working into the blind spot of defensive backs when it’s afforded to him. Works hard to find space when quarterback gets out of structure. Defensive backs struggle to match him vertically from press coverage.
There are cases where Lodge holds his line but fails to really stack the hips of defensive backs. Additionally, he can get too caught up and focused on defeating press and fail to get into his route breaks on time.
Generally effective against all coverages and in all levels of the field. One of the better separators among wide receivers in the 2019 class.
Athleticism / Speed – Silky smooth athlete with explosiveness. Blazing speed in space. Well-rounded athlete who has a solid build for a Z receiver at the next level. Flexible with lateral agility and above average strength. His ability to leap at any angle and body control to match can make him open even when he’s covered. His athleticism speaks to his overall game.
Hands / Ball Skills – Lodge’s ball skills are excellent 95% of the time, but he can occasionally suffer from some rough concentration drops. His tracking is excellent down the field and when in full stride, but he can occasionally lose the ball when contested. He’s mostly extending away from his chest in order to make grabs, but he is at his best when reaching to the high point. Generally soft hands and easily adjusts to an array of ball placement. Will consistently work to attack the catchpoint. Drops will occur because of sometimes awkward hand placement, which persisted at times as a Senior.
Body Control – Lodge’s body control may be second to none in the class. He’s shown the ability to make acrobatic receptions that many receivers couldn’t even get close to. Ability along the sideline is excellent, as he’s aware and balanced. Magician in how he’s able to extend while keeping his toes in-bounds. Field is extended because of his awareness along boundary. Whether high pointing the football or tip-toeing through traffic along the boundary, Lodge’s body control is consistently impressive.
Ball Carrier – Lodge is elusive as a ball carrier, who uses his plus explosiveness to work through defenders. Well-balanced and will stay up through contact when hit above the waist or when tackles attempt to ankle-bite. Field vision is excellent, as he sprints towards open space. Feel for defenders Jen he’s attacking downhill is excellent, and he transitions into a vertical ball carrier in minimal time and steps. Can seek out contact and punish smaller defenders when he views them as inferior strength-wise.
Stalk Blocking – Lodge plays the game with an edge, and it has translated into his blocking as a Senior. He’s relentless in how he attacks defensive backs, and will work to cut them off after RPO routes as well. Does an excellent job at remaining engaged with defensive backs, with true vice grips. Lateral mobility allows him to mirror defenders. Will recoil and stop the defender’s momentum, beginning to drive them. When his teammates make receptions or bust off big runs, Lodge has shown the ability to cut off defenders and lay the wood. Flashes of dominance as a blocker with his size and length combination.
Versatility – Lodge was pigeon-holed into a role at Ole Miss, generally operating as the outside wide receiver to the right side of the offense. While his body type could be used in the slot at the next level, this will be a bit of a projection. He’s shown the ability to win in all levels of the field, but rarely on in-breaking routes, which he’ll need to prove.
BEST TRAIT – Body Control
WORST TRAIT – Versatility
RED FLAGS – N/A
Lodge may be the least heralded of the Ole Miss wide receivers, but I’m more confident in him reaching his ceiling than DK Metcalf or AJ Brown. Despite a bit of a limited role in alignment, there was development in his game as a Senior. He dropped less passes than his junior year, and showed more effort throughout all aspects of the game. His natural ability was already that of a Day 2 player, as his athleticism, size and acrobatics makes him an enticing talent. There have been instances where Lodge was relied on to take over stretches of game, and he responded well. His leadership was seen on his Senior year film, as he was constantly flying around the field. Lodge will likely uncover no matter the coverage defenses throw at him, giving him a generally high-floor. Lodge has rounded off his game, and is one of the most complete receiver prospects in the NFL Draft class.