Due to concerns around the coronavirus outbreak, nearly all of the college pro days were cancelled this season. With the limited amount of in-person scouting available this draft season, teams will have to fall back on players they already know and coaches they trust for reliable information. Today we look at Khaleke Hudson, a prospect who grew up in the Steelers back yard and helped lead his McKeesport’s triple option offense and anchor their defense.
Weight: 224 lbs
Age: 22 years old
Khaleke Hudson was the 2015 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette High School Football Player of the Year out of McKeesport High School. He was the anchor of the Tigers flexbone triple-option rushing attack and did a bit of everything. Hudson ran for 1258 yards and scored 25 total TDs as a senior after running for 1644 yards and 26 TDs as a junior. He was a stud on defense and committed to Michigan where he played on Special Teams and as a defensive reserve as a true freshman. He stepped into the starting lineup as a true sophomore and his explosiveness was evident, tying an NCAA record with 8 tackles for loss against Minnesota. Michigan moved Hudson around in the “Viper” role over the last two seasons, flexing between linebacker and safety. Michigan lined him up all over the field from the deep safety role, an off-ball linebacker position, and right on the line as an edge rusher. The Steelers heavily scouted the Michigan team last year when they picked Devin Bush and Zach Gentry and are familiar with Hudson as a locally grown prospect.
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Khaleke Hudson is a LB prospect in the 2020 draft class out of Michigan.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 11, 2020
2019 Stats: 13 games, 102 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, 3 PBUs, 1 blocked punt
Career Stats: 52 games (37 starts), 237 tackles, 26 TFLs, 12 sacks, 2 INTs, 16 PDs, 2 FF, 1 FR, 5 blocked kicks
Hudson has been a beast in the middle of Michigan’s defense for the last three years. In the “Viper” role, he has been a flex linebacker/safety, which is exactly the type of player the Steelers need to add. The Steelers need depth at both inside linebacker and safety. He has also been a special teams demon with 5 blocked kicks over his career. Hudson is a physical player with a relentless motor who will run and chase all over the field. He is at his best in short zone coverages where he can diagnose the play in front of him and attack. Hudson displays good eyes to read the play and is not often fooled by misdirections, screens or play-action. His tape has a number of plays where he blows up a screen pass or holds his coverage on play-action. He was particularly effective against read-option teams at attacking the mesh point and properly identifying and attacking the player with the ball.
Playing as a slot defender, Hudson would both rush the passer or drop into coverage. He was at his best in short zone coverage and didn’t have the long speed to run with slot receivers on crossing routes. In coverage, he had a tendency to get grabby with his hands, especially against seam routes. He did have the physicality to match up with college tight ends over the middle. Coming off the edge, he relied almost solely on a speed rush and lacked the size and strength to overpower linemen. His sacks mostly came from either being unblocked or from getting the edge on a lineman and running around a hand chuck. He could get stuck in a lineman’s chest or thrown to the ground if his rush angle was too close to the tackle. Similarly in run defense, Hudson would fly to the ball and sometimes overrun the ball or get swallowed up by a lineman.
In the Viper role, Hudson was used as a slot defender, often covering tight ends, receivers, or blitzing off the edge. He was not a very effective blitzer and doesn’t have a lot in terms of pass rush moves. He is undersized for an edge rusher and can get overpowered by bigger linemen. In coverage, he can hold his own against tight ends but can also get grabby with his hands. He is best in zone coverage where he can diagnose and attack. With 5 blocked kicks in his career, Hudson has the opportunity to be an immediate special teamer with long-term potential to develop into an inside linebacker. Having played the last three years on the outside as a slot defender or edge rusher, Hudson would likely need some time to learn the defense and the visual keys from the inside before seeing significant snaps with the starters. From both his time as a high school athlete at McKeesport and later at Michigan, Khaleke drew rave reviews for his locker room presence and his leadership abilities. He was hailed as a great teammate and was a team captain this past season.
Final Grade: Likely Day 3, probably 4th or 5th round
References: mgoblue.com, youtube.com