2014 Draft Prospect to Remember: Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU

Scott Cunningham

Is it too early to look ahead to the 2014 NFL Draft? NEVER! You could also consider this something of "prospect to remember" primer for the college football season. First up: Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU.

I first noticed Cody Hoffman while scouting Dexter McCoil. It was the Tulsa/BYU 2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, and a number of Hoffman's catches left my mouth agape, my mind marveling at his ability. His final stat line: 8 catches, 122 yards, 3 touchdowns. I had a simple note -- "BYU #2 = STUD" -- written in the margins of my legal pad and, upon figuring out through research that the object of my affection was a 2014 NFL Draft prospect, decided he'd be one of the players I'll pay extra close attention to during the 2013 college football season.

Name: Cody Hoffman
School: Brigham Young
Position: WR
Height/Weight: 6024 / 215 (unofficial)
Year: rSr.

2012 games viewed: @Utah, vs. Utah State, vs. Oregon State, @Notre Dame, vs. Idaho, @San Jose State, @New Mexico State
2011 games viewed: @Tulsa (Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl)

Positives

Tall body with long legs and arms.

Really soft, sticky, strong hands; textbook catch technique -- reaches for, snatches ball away from his frame and out of the air with aplomb. Only had two bad drops in the 8 games viewed, but both were sure TDs (vs. Oregon State, 2Q, 5:08, 3rd & 1; vs. Idaho, 2Q, 0:03, 1st & 10).

Effective leaper with go-up-and-get-it mentality, large catch radius and always high-points the ball. Can jump, fully extend and high-point the ball while running without breaking stride (@Tulsa, 3Q, 4:13, 3rd & 10).

Smooth, graceful athlete and mover with fluid hips and tremendous balance.

Lines up split wide (X) and in the slot (Y).

Quick off the line and can beat jam (though CB attempts to disrupt him at LOS were rare).

Reliable, high-volume target who finds holes in the defense and gets open a lot.

Dependable on 3rd down, knack for making clutch catches and moving the chains.

Polished, excellent route runner; master of the double move, sells fakes and creates separation with quickness and suddenness of movement in and out of his breaks, as well as subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) use of arms and hands.

Uses body well to box out DB, create space and make catch.

Strong lower half, breaks tackles, doesn't go down easily and drags defenders for extra yards.

Uncanny ability to adjust to the ball while it's in the air, reaches across/behind body and makes difficult catches while mid-stride (vs. Oregon State, 3Q, 12:26: 3rd & 6; @Tulsa, 4Q, 14:09, 3rd & 13, with BYU backed up at its own 9-yard line) and mid-jump (vs. Utah State, 2Q, 7:27, 1st & 10; 2Q, 0:23, 2nd & 2). Doesn't give up on the ball, love the effort even on poorly thrown passes.

Functional blocker who typically fights to maintain blocks and allows ball carrier to pick up extra yards. Particularly effective on bubble screens.

Incredible field awareness, conscious of where he is at all times and had an example in each game of being adept at tapping feet inbounds along the sideline when making a catch; after securing the ball, eyes immediately go down to check where his feet are in relation to the field.

Concentration + very strong at the catch point (vs. Utah State, 4Q, 6:59, 3rd & 8); maintains focus, is able to haul in deflections (@San Jose State, 4Q, 2:36, onside kick recovery as part of the hands team) and juggle to secure double-catches while getting hit (@San Jose State, 4Q, 3:33, 2nd & 10); makes contested catches with defender/s on his hip and draped all over him (vs. Utah State, 2Q, 7:55, 3rd & 5; @New Mexico State, 1Q, 10:47, 1st & 10, against Jeremy Harris); is tough, works in traffic and can take a big hit and hold on (i.e. vs. Oregon State, 2Q, 11:12, 3rd & 10; @Notre Dame, 3Q, 9:42, 2nd & 4).

Able to get low, dives to pluck the ball right before it hits the ground.

Precise route running, body control, soft hands, concentration, field/sideline awareness, toe-tapping are frequently all combined into a single play (i.e. @Notre Dame, 3Q, 8:18, 3rd & 12; vs. Idaho, 2Q, 11:10, 1st & Goal, TD reception; @Tulsa, 2Q, 4:40, 1st & 10, leaps and stretches out full-extension to high-point and snag the ball, replay appears to show he gets right toe down just barely in bounds, even though ref calls him out out of bounds and replay upholds it).

Picture of durability, hasn't missed a game in three seasons.

Negatives

Not a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands (though he has a bit of wiggle, can make initial defender miss and pick up some YAC; best post-catch moment came @New Mexico State, 3Q, 3:10, 3rd & 10, ran perfect dig route, caught the ball at the 25, turned up field, hurdled a DB at the 15 and tip-toed down the sideline into the end zone. There's also an example in the San Jose State game where he hurdles two defenders.).

Lacks truly explosive element to his game, both in terms of speed/acceleration and athleticism.

Will run a 4.5+ time in the 40-yard dash; not a deep threat, confined mostly to working underneath and intermediate part of the field.

Perhaps it's just his natural gait, but I don't get the sense he's always going full speed; sometimes appears to gear down when the play isn't designed to go to him or lackadaisically saunters and fails to locate, block defender on a run (i.e. @Notre Dame, 3Q, 13:59, 1st & 10)

Conclusion

Really like Cody Hoffman's game, few negatives. At worst, I think you're getting a very good #2 WR who's versatile enough to play the X and Y positions and create matchup problems for the defense. In addition to his size, length, strength and leaping ability, Hoffman is a savvy receiver and top-level -- extremely impressive -- route runner who can create separation that way, which bodes well for his transition to the NFL. He will find his niche as a valuable possession option and red zone threat, as well as a wonderful complement to the speedy Z receiver. A reliable target with soft and strong hands, elite body control and field awareness who can work in traffic; makes tough catches look routine and will take a hit to make a play. It seemed like every other time Hoffman made a catch (difficult or not), it came on 3rd down and resulted in a 1st down or touchdown. Smooth and fluid rather than freakish and explosive athletically. I don't think Hoffman's going to be a workout wonder, but there's no question in my mind he can play and be a top-2 WR at the next level. I don't necessarily like doing NFL player comparisons, but I understand their value and purpose. Plaxico Burress and Anquan Boldin are the names that kept popping into my head to reflect the combination of Hoffman's body type and demonstrated skill set.

Value: 2nd-3rd round (would take him in the 2nd)

Stats: (via http://www.cfbstats.com/2012/player/77/1023357/receiving/split.html)
2012: 13 GP, 100 REC, 1248 YDS (12.48 AVG), 11 TD
2011: 13 GP, 61 REC, 943 YDS (15.46 AVG), 10 TD
2010: 13 GP, 42 REC, 527 YDS (12.55 AVG), 7 TD

Bio: (via http://byucougars.com/athlete/m-football/cody-hoffman)
DOB: March 13, 1991
Hometown: Crescent City, CA (HS: Del Norte)
Major: Geography
Phil Steele All-Independent First Team and FBS All-Independent Team in 2011 and 2012.
Had surgery for torn shoulder muscle after 2012 season and missed entire 2013 spring camp (http://www.heraldextra.com/sports/college/byu/football/byu-s-rehabbing-hoffman-celebrates-birthday-during-spring-football-that/article_ccc12b04-8c4a-11e2-a5d6-001a4bcf887a.html)

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