The Giants announced Friday that they had re-signed wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins, a big deal for a player who before coming to New York in November had spent most of his NFL career on a practice squad.
“It was definitely a long journey, looking back on just some of that stuff and listening to the stories it’s kind of crazy how far I’ve come,” Hodgins said Friday during an appearance on Tiki and Tierney on WFAN.
Hodgins was drafted in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Bills, but saw time in only three games while in Buffalo. But during his time on the practice squad Hodgins would remember the advice of his father, a former NFL player himself who reminded him that his position still allowed him to work out with some of the best in the business on both sides of the ball.
“You’re going against Tre’Davious White and Jordan Poyer and all these people every single day, giving them a look, like those are going to be people you’re going to be playing against one day in a game,” Hodgins said. “People like Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, just all these household names I was just able to learn from and really get comfortable with and learn how to really run routes and model my game after.”
And once he joined the Giants, he used that practice to his advantage. Despite only playing in eight regular season games, Hodgins finished the season with the third most receiving yards (351) and tied for the most receiving touchdowns (four) on the team. And in the Giants’ wild-card upset over the Vikings, the 24-year-old exploded for 108 yards and a TD on eight receptions. As New York made its way back to the postseason for the first time since 2016 and won its first playoff game since the 2011 season, Hodgins became one of the more reliable receiving options on a team which didn’t have a definitive go-to WR all season.
Another key part of the Giants’ success in 2022 was the emergence of quarterback Daniel Jones, who had his best year while leading Big Blue to a wild card berth. And Hodgins echoed the now-widespread praise for Jones and his improvement, saying that he was not surprised at the QB’s breakout year. By his own admission, Hodgins had already been keeping an eye on Jones while in Buffalo, and made comparisons between his skills and those of the previous QB that Giants head coach Brian Daboll had mentored as the Bills’ offensive coordinator.
“It’s funny because a lot of the players used to call Daniel Jones ‘Baby Josh Allen’ when we were over there. That was kind of the joke … when we were like, ‘You know who’s going to be Josh in a couple years? Daniel Jones!’ I definitely see it, just the way he uses his legs, and I think you saw that more as the season went on.”
While Hodgins has confirmation that he’ll be returning to New York for another year, Jones’ future as a Giant is still unknown, as he is entering contract negotiations after not having his fifth-year option picked up ahead of the 2022 season. Although Hodgins said he didn’t want to speak on behalf of the Giants or Jones, he admitted he is one of many who would love to see Jones stay in New York as the team attempts to build on this year’s postseason run in 2023.
“I know a lot of the players hope so, and a lot of the fans hope so too,” he said. “From a wide receiver’s standpoint, I genuinely hope so. I love him as a player, as a person, so I’d definitely be excited to keep working with him.”