Hodge Podge at Wide Receiver
KhaDarel Hodge is forcing his way onto the field. The Browns don’t really want to play three wide receiver sets, except for certain matchups. They would rather use two tight end sets or have Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb on the field at the same time, with one of them playing slot receiver. They also think highly of fullback Andy Janovich.
But No. 12 KhaDarel Hodge is an unbelievable athletic talent. As the gunner on special teams, you have seen him loosen teeth with jarring tackles. He’s a 4.39 guy from a small school (Prairie View A&M) who did not come to the NFL as a polished NFL-ready receiver.
He was seen strictly as a special teams player, but by the end of 2019 was running some decent pass patterns and was being used as a third wide receiver. Prior to Sunday’s action, none of the Browns receivers were ranked particularly highly by Pro Football Focus, but the highest-ranked receiver in terms of receiving score was not Odell Beckham, Jr. or Jarvis Landry, but KhaDarel Hodge a 29th highest in the NFL.
As always, the caveat must be added that PFF grades are based on assignment, so if the receiver is going up against the slot corner rather than the opponent’s top guy, the grade might be inflated. Also, to be fair, Jarvis Landry scored higher as a run blocker and edged him out overall.
Nevertheless, few if any fans thought Hodge would be on the field for 56 percent of the offensive snaps this season, but that is what has happened in the early going. His stat line is modest. Mayfield has targeted him five times with three catches and 51 yards.
More importantly, however, his 4.39 speed means that he cannot be covered by a slower safety, and that means the opponent is going to have to find a faster cover guy to account for him, affecting the matchup somewhere else.