The Vikings used their pick in the fourth round Saturday – the 120th overall choice – on Penn State outside linebacker Gerald Hodges.
Hodges is a converted high school quarterback and wrestler who started his college career at safety before moving to linebacker during his true freshman season due to injuries on the Penn State defense.
The 6-2, 237-pound Hodges was a two-time all-Big Ten Conference selection. He was named to the second team in 2011 and the first team in 2012. He led Penn State in tackles both in 2011 (106) and 2012 (109), with 18.5 tackles for loss in that time.
He is good at dropping in pass coverage – he had seven pass breakups and was tied for second o his team with two interceptions in 2012 -- and can play the run physically.
Hodges was a leader on a Penn State defense that finished second in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in scoring defense (19.1 points per game).
Hodges played weakside linebacker in 2011 and was on the strong side in 2012. In a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Hodges said he'd never played inside linebacker until he played ILB as part of a 3-4 defense in the East-West Shrine game.
That said, he said he's willing and able to play inside should the Vikings want to try him there: "I feel very comfortable with my potential, with my ability to move quickly and hit gaps," he said.
Here are some other tidbits from his conference call:
--He admitted he had hoped to go earlier in the draft, and was feeling rather stressed by the process. So he decided to take a shower in an attempt to relax. "As I came out of the shower my phone was ringing," he said. "It was Minnesota on the phone, and I saw they were on the board with the next pick. It was an amazing feeling."
--On being recruited by and playing for Joe Paterno: "It's like being coached by a legend while he's still coaching," Hodges said. "He taught you a lot about playing football, but at the same time he taught you a lot about being a man and showing respect."
--Hodges was among a handful of Penn State seniors who worked to keep the team together as the Jerry Sandusky story unfolded. He called it a maturing process.