BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman had a big time junior year in terms of his production and while his senior year was not quite as impressive in terms of his statistics, he developed into a better player. Hoffman has been a big bodied receiver who could move the chains and extend drives, but this year became more of a big play option that was able to make opponents miss and make big plays against big opponents.
Going to the NFL, Hoffman’s size stands out as does his ability to get open and catch the ball, but he has shown he is not just a possession receiver. While he can move be a great option to get first downs, he has shown he can make plays after the catch as well. Hoffman has also embraced blocking this year, which with his size and strength, makes him a more attractive player. There will be some questions as to why he was suspended a game for violating team rules this year. Hoffman warrants going the second day of the draft but he may ultimately be a terrific value on day three because of the depth of talent at the position in this year’s draft and if he can keep adding to his game as he did each year he was in Provo, his best football could still be ahead of him.
Vitals & Build
Hoffman is listed at 6’4” 210lbs and looks the part of a pro receiver. He has a broad build and appears to have a decent amount of physical strength to give smaller defensive backs a great deal of trouble and overwhelm them with his size. His speed does not stand out much but that does not mean is slow by any stretch; he just does not look like a burner. Hoffman is actually listed a little lighter than he was last season and perhaps just a coincidence, but he is a little bit lighter on his feet and more agile. He has good feet and is able to contort his body effectively to make plays. Hoffman can still continue to get stronger and add to what he already does well as he goes forward.
Route Running & Technique
His stance needs work; on the surface it is fine, but he bounces a little bit out of his stance on the release and should just start slightly lower. The larger problem is the habit he needs to break, which is lining up with his arms down by his sides. This becomes a problem when it comes to press, because by having his hands by his sides, he consistently lets opponents get in the first punch at the line and he needs to do a better job of beating the jam. Press coverage is like a fist fight; it is a mistake to go into either without having the hands up for protection.
Once he gets into his route, Hoffman is excellent at setting up and executing moves. The hard work and dedication in this area are evident. He is efficient when it comes to how many steps he needs to get in and out of his breaks, enabling him to create separation in a small area. Hoffman is good at selling intent on routes keeping opponents guessing. Between head fakes, subtle use of his hands to gain space without drawing penalties and varying how he runs his routes, he makes it hard to read what he is going to do. This is the best aspect of his game and looks the most pro-ready of what he does. From digs, curls, and comebacks as well as slants, crosses, drags, posts and flags, Hoffman runs a varied route tree and does and does a great job with them to get open and give his quarterback an open target. Hoffman is a savvy receiver that is playing the man instead of just thinking about what he needs to do in order to execute his route.
In addition to his route running, he adds another element to his ability to be a threat and show off his intelligence as a player by how well he feels what the coverage is doing and adjusting. Instead of running a route and settling for being covered or waiting to try and do something else, Hoffman will make that determination immediately and go down the field or work back to the quarterback immediately and it works basically as an extension of the route, giving the defense one more wrinkle in which to prepare. In spite of having a number of different quarterbacks in his career, Hoffman has been able to work and develop chemistry quickly with them and has a good feel for how to get open for them.
Hoffman has pretty good hands and an impressive catch radius. There are plays that Hoffman will not make, but in some of those cases, they are situations where other players may not have even been able to get to the football. For a bigger receiver, Hoffman is really effective going low to catch the football, but he has worked to improve when it comes to going up and high pointing the football.
Hoffman has a big body and he has worked to get better at shielding opponents out from the ball, but this is something that should continue. When he is able to do it, it becomes difficult for anyone to get in his path and get to the football.
Hoffman can track the ball well and sees it when it goes awry or has to make a tough adjustment. He does a great job in that respect, but he needs to find a way to make and secure the catch on those plays more often. Combining that with just getting stronger in how he snags the football to no one can then rip it out is the next step for him in his progression.
Run After Catch
This is an area where Hoffman has really improved. In addition to catching the ball cleanly in a position so he can make the transition from pass catcher to runner, he is anticipating where his feet are going. As a result, he is catching the ball with his feet ready to make the next move, which has yielded the ability to make opponents miss as well as just playing faster.
Hoffman has also worked to get quicker and has made more opponents miss after the catch. Something that was somewhat infrequent last season, the further this season progressed, the more he was able to extend plays and be a more dangerous player.
Hoffman has embraced blocking a lot more this year. He has been a contributor in that role, getting in between opponents and the ball carrier and shielding them off effectively. When he has the opportunity, Hoffman will look to drive opponents.
The issue he needs to improve is simply playing with a lower base. Hoffman is extremely tall and does not bend his knees or get a base where he can block with much strength. Nevertheless, he has been able to get the job done when it comes to sealing opponents off from the edge. Hoffman still has to do a better job when he has to come in the field of play and try to hit opponents in space, but the effort from last year is night and day. He may never love to block, but he is doing it and doing it effectively.
Hoffman does have experience on punt returns, which is not something he likely to do in the NFL, but is further indication of his improved quickness and ability to make opponents miss.
Hoffman has demonstrated the ability to fit into a horizontal or vertical offense at this point. He does a good job of catching passes on the move like slants or crosses and then being able to get some more yards. He is able to set up defenders and create opportunities for himself that allow him to give quarterbacks a target and be effective in a timing offense. He also shows the viability to work in a vertical offense as he can set up routes deep and come back to the football and again, he could be more of a vertical threat with more opportunities to prove it. Hoffman could be a player that is counted out on few boards around the NFL as his size, ability to get open and move the chains and be a red zone threat are attractive but teams that are opting to get a bunch of smaller, more athletic wide receivers that work better in space. Hoffman is better suited to play on the outside but can work in the slot because of his ability to run routes and manipulate defenders and there are situations where he excels in that capacity.
Hoffman’s game is somewhat similar to that of Marques Colston out of Hofstra and longtime New Orleans Saint. They are both big receivers with the size and reliability to get open and be a consistent target for their respective quarterbacks. Colston has a bigger catching radius but Hoffman has a chance to extend his and having Drew Brees throwing the football helps as well. Both are guys who can make catches to get first downs, extend drives, and are nice, big targets in the red zone. It remains to be seen if Hoffman can have the same type of NFL career Colston has had but he should end up being drafted earlier than Colston, who went in round seven with the 252nd overall pick of the 2006 draft.
Cody Hoffman made the most of his last year at BYU. He showed previously that he could be a possession receiver and red zone threat, but this season, he showed he could make plays after the catch and showed better technique in how he caught the ball to prepare to get yards after the play. Hoffman also added a viable ability to block and help the running game. Hoffman has value in his ability to move the chains, but he has shown that he is more than that and he warrants a second day pick, but could be a terrific value if he lasts until day three.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com