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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: OT James Hudson

  • The Draft Network
  • January 6, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY - JAMES HUDSON

A 4-star recruit as a high school defensive lineman, James Hudson was originally a member of the University of Michigan where he began transitioning to offensive tackle in 2017. Hudson transferred to Cincinnati and was expected to be a starter in 2019 but was forced to sit out almost the entire season after having a hardship waiver denied. Hudson started at left tackle for the Bearcats in 2020 and showcased an exciting skill set. While Hudson is unquestionably raw at the position, his blend of size, length, power, mobility, and aggressiveness makes him an exciting piece of moldable clay to develop. Make no mistake about it, he has considerable work ahead in improving his hand technique, footwork, weight distribution, and timing, but his ceiling is notably high should it all come together. Hudson may not be a contributor early in his career but has the makings of being a starter by Year 3. Despite notable room for growth, Hudson shines when it comes to the “developmental offensive lineman” label and he could pay big dividends for the team that is willing to draft and develop him. 

Ideal Role: Developmental offensive tackle.

Scheme Fit: Zone rushing attack.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Joe Marino 

Games watched: Memphis (2020), Houston (2020), Tulsa (2020), UCF (2020), Georgia (2020)

Best Game Studied: Tulsa (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: Houston (2020) 

Balance: Hudson has a tendency to get top heavy and bend at the waist, especially when he’s in recovery mode. There are too many instances where his base becomes narrow and his weight distribution is poor, leading to control and balance issues. In terms of movement skills, Hudson is explosive in space and has easy mobility when sliding his feet with terrific balance. 

Pass Sets: Hudson has the foot quickness to consistently reach his set points and handle speed up the arc. With that said, he can be too eager to open his hips and grease rush angles for his opponent. He must become more deliberate about keeping his base wide and trusting his ability to move his feet and stay square. As he gains experience at the position, he should develop more confidence and technique, and hopefully the game slows down for him so his outstanding physical traits can start to take over. 

Competitive Toughness: Hudson blocks with an edge and wants to bury his opponents as often as possible. He has terrific enthusiasm in the run game, competing to move bodies and create space. In pass protection, Hudson loves to snatch, trap, and drive his man into the ground. Hudson’s motor always runs hot and he’s eager to trail plays as they elongate and find work. 

Lateral Mobility: Hudson has easy movement skills and all the footspeed needed to slide and mirror. He’s explosive on the move and in fact, needs to be more careful to not get too far ahead of plays when he’s blocking in space on the perimeter. His lateral mobility is an asset on wide zone runs, where he can keep moving and widening gaps. 

Length: Surely part of the decision for Hudson to move from the defensive line to offensive tackle was his arm length. With that said, he needs to do a better job of using it as a weapon by cleaning up his hand technique so he can more consistently keep rushers at the edge of his reach. His blend of movement skills and length help him steer rushers beyond the peak of the pocket. 

Football IQ: Hudson started playing offensive tackle in 2017 and it shows. The game is fast for him and he has plenty of room to grow when it comes to timing and technique. Hudson enters the NFL with fewer than 750 career snaps played in college.

Hand Technique: Hudson has powerful hands and he is capable of delivering devastating blows to his opponent. His grip strength is outstanding and when his hands are placed and fit, he can be dominant. Unfortunately, his timing and placement are highly inconsistent. His punch can be tardy and wide, exposing his chest and enabling defenders to take control of reps with their hands. 

Anchor Ability: Hudson absorbs power well. He knows how to leverage his hips, bow his back and set a roadblock. With that said, his tendency to become top heavy, late and tardy hands, and inconsistent body positioning creates some challenges in not conceding ground. 

Power at P.O.A.: Hudson has terrific power throughout his frame. His hands are heavy and violent, his leg drive is powerful, and there are plenty of reps where he rolls his hips into contact and uproots defensive linemen out of their gap. Hudson’s blend of functional strength and a mauler’s mentality are a great combination, but he needs to make sure his technique gets corrected so he doesn’t rob himself of power at the point of attack. 

Versatility: Hudson played 28 snaps at right tackle in 2018 and the rest of his playing experience has come at left tackle. He’s raw enough at the position to where there shouldn’t be any major issues with moving him to the right side if necessary. His best scheme fit likely comes in a zone rushing attack. Hudson has the potential to develop into an impact blocker in pass protection, the run game, and out in space. 

Prospect Comparison: Charles Leno Jr. (2014 NFL Draft, Chicago Bears) 

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: 71.38/100

Joe Marino: 72.50/100

Kyle Crabbs: 71.00/100

Jordan Reid: 71.00/100

Drae Harris: 71.00/100

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