According to Neil Stratton of Inside the League, Hokies WR/TE Bucky Hodges will enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The Virginia Tech redshirt junior's reported representation is Lagardère Sports.
Andy Bitter confirmed Stratton's report with Hodges' father.
Hodges considered declaring for the draft following Tech's 2015 football season, but ultimately returned for a fourth year in Blacksburg to polish his game.
The 6-7, 245 pound 757 (Salem) product caught 48 passes for 691 yards and 7 TDs in 2016. Hodges caught 40-plus balls in each of his three seasons on the field, and improved his receiving average each subsequent year.
ESPN's Mel Kiper is extremely bullish on Hodges' potential. Earlier in the month, ESPN's draft guru ranked Hodges No. 21 on his big board.
"When you're that big and that athletic and that fast and you flashed big-time ability, you're going to have a pretty high grade," he said. "Now, you'd like to see more consistency. You'd like to see him at times fight a little bit more and show a little bit more, I wouldn't say competitiveness, but obviously maximize that ability on a more play-by-play, game-by-game basis.
"But you know, you look at where he can be. I think that's more upside than he's shown."
Although, most draft rankings (which are prone to fluctuation), rank Alabama's O.J. Howard as the No. 1 overall TE. NFLDraftScout.com ranks Hodges No. 47 overall and the No. 3 TE. Walterfootball.com pegs Hodges as the No. 5 TE.
[Hodges] is a dangerous receiver who can hurt defenses in the red zone. Hodges needs to improve his blocking for the NFL, but he could be an impactful receiving tight end.
Hodges worked as a wide receiver on most Hokies' snaps this season. He also flexed out wide plenty in 2015. Hodges ultimate draft position will hinge on how NFL Scouts value the upside of his athleticism combined with the potential for mismatches against both NFL linebackers and defensive backs.