2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: James Hudson

  • James Hudson, 6-4/302

  • Offensive Tackle

  • Cincinnati

  • James Hudson Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Good athlete
  • Agile edge blocker
  • Quick feet
  • Big hands – 11 inches
  • Can kick slide to block speed rushers
  • Can bend at the knee
  • Agile in space
  • Fast out of his stance
  • Quick to the second level
  • Excellent fit for a zone-blocking scheme
  • Able to hit blocks in space
  • Smooth mover
  • Thick build
  • Can anchor
  • Scrappy run blocker
  • Lots of upside

  • Weaknesses:
  • Short arms
  • Lacks arm length – 33 inches
  • Less than ideal height for a tackle
  • Very inexperienced
  • One-year starter
  • Vulnerable to rushes to the inside
  • Can get his weight over his toes and lunge
  • Could stand to add more functional strength

  • Summary: It took some time for Hudson to work his way into being a draftable player, but after transferring from Michigan, he was able to turn into an early-round prospect in only one full season of playing with the Bearcats. The NCAA denied a hardship waiver for Hudson, and he only played one game in 2019, but in 2020, Hudson became a solid starter, helping Cincinnati to go 9-1. The Bearcats went undefeated through regular season before losing to Georgia in the Peach Bowl.

    Hudson is a potential early-round pick after only playing one season of college football thanks to his excellent skill set. He is very athletic, possessing good speed, agility, and quick feet to be an edge protector in the NFL. Hudson fires out of his stance and relies on his athleticism to smoothly move in playing the typewriter with his feet and cutting off the edge from speed rushers. With his solid build and big hands, Hudson does a nice job of sustaining blocks and keep edge rushers from achieving pressure on a second effort. Hudson also is able to anchor against bull rushes because of a thick lower body to match his barrel chest. Hudson can bend at the knee and is quick to engage edge rushers. There is no doubt he has excellent the athleticism, quickness and agility to be a potential starting left tackle in the NFL.

    As a run blocker, Hudson is scrappy and does a nice job of tying up defenders. He fires off the line and is very adept at working to the second level, displaying the quickness to get downfield, where his agility lets him hit blocks in space. While Hudson is not an overpowering lineman who will blast defenders off the line, he can tie them up, he can turn them, or he can manipulate them away from the running back. Hudson would be an excellent fit for a zone-blocking scheme in the NFL.

    There are a lot of points of development for Hudson, because he is a raw prospect, although that isn’t surprising considering his lack of playing time from college. Hudson is vulnerable to inside rushes, as he can overextend himself to the outside from looking to cut off the edge. Improving that tendency will be key for Hudson to avoid giving up sacks in the NFL. He also drifts his weight gets over his toes at times, which forces him to lunge after defenders. Hudson should add some more functional strength as well.

    Given Hudson’s short arms and a lack of length on the edge, some teams might project him moving inside to guard as a pro, but he has the feet and agility of a left tackle. A team could keep him at tackle and make a plan to move himto guard as a plan B if his lack of length proves problematic. Due to his size and lack of experience, Hudson is likely to be a second-day pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. If he lands with a team that has a good offensive line coach and is patient with Hudson’s development, he has the skill set and upside to develop into a good starter at left tackle.

    Player Comparison: D.J. Humphries. Hudson reminds me of Humphries coming out of Florida, and they are nearly identical in terms of size and speed. Humphries was a top recruit who dealt with injuries in college and had limited experience entering the NFL. Like Hudson, Humphries showed a good skill set of athleticism, quickness and agility on the edge, but he was also a raw talent with some development needed to become a good pro. Many teams had Humphries (6-5, 307) graded in the second round, but Arizona took him late in the first round. Hudson is a bit more raw, shorter, and less developed, so could end up as a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. If Hudson pans out in the NFL, I could see his career and caliber of play mirroring Humphries’.


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