College: Florida State
There are some guys better left to be evaluated until after the combine, like Ryan Kerrigan. Then, there are guys like Rodney Hudson. Hudson won't gain or lose much stock by running a quicker time. His athleticism has been proven at Florida State being named all ACC first team 3 times and earning the honor all 4 seasons.
Hudson was one of those guys that the coaches at Florida State raved about. Most thought that Rick Trickett, a rough West Virginia boy, may cry when Hudson left. Whether it was because Hudson carried an average offensive line or because Hudson was such a good guy to have around the locker room leaves room for debate. Regardless, we all know that college careers mean very little when it comes to transitioning to the NFL.
Cons: What may be Hudsons biggest attraction for the Bucs, will also, likely, be his biggest weakness. He lacks a true position. He is a hybrid of a Center and Guard. He lacks the size and some strength to be an instant contributor. For comparison sake he is about 20 lbs lighter than any lineman currently on the Bucs roster. This impacts his ability to drive lineman off the ball. He would fit very well in a zone-blocking system, something the Bucs have gradually gone away from since the firing of Jeff Jagodzinski.
Pros: Most lineman that project at his size and strength would hardly sniff the 2nd round and be labeled as a project. I'm not saying that Hudson isn't (he must get stronger) but he is incredibly athletic (which Florida States line is predicated on), a strong leader and incredibly smart when it comes to football. He understands leverage and uses near perfect technique and fundamentals to offset his lack of size and strength. Fundamentally, Hudson may be the most polished lineman entering the draft since Jake Long. His pass-blocking skills rank amongst the best of the pool this year. Also, what may be attractive from the Bucs stand-point is that he provides depth at crucial positions. He provides the same sort of versatility that a player like Ted Larsen does, only with more talent.
Final Analysis: I think if the Bucs decide to look at an offensive lineman in the first round it would be someone like Hudson. Strong character, will impress in interviews and very polished for an undersized guy. He will have to put on strength and weight to play in the NFL. I'm not sure that he will weigh in at much more than 290 - 293 at the combine, though he's probably been trying to put on the weight. Hudsons stock dropped this past season, but probably unfairly. He played on arguably the most beat up offensive line in the nation, playing next to a mediocre center and a slew of LT's. I do not think the Bucs draft Rodney Hudson, but if they do, you'll know what to expect.
2009 vs North Carolina - Playing against one of the quickest, strongest defenses in the ACC. Lines up at LG.