DeMarkus Lodge is another dynasty rookie wide receiver to target in the later rounds of your rookie drafts.
DeMarkus Lodge’s draft hype has been buried behind his fellow Ole Miss wide receiver prospects AJ Brown and DK Metcalf. He isn’t on their level of top end ceiling, but he has more immediate polish than his former teammates and could find himself a role in an NFL offense early in his career if a team is willing to look beyond his poor athletic testing. DeMarkus Lodge is an overlooked dynasty asset right now that may not be overlooked after the NFL Draft.
DeMarkus Lodge didn’t test well at the combine. His tape showed a receiver with good long speed that could win in the air. His testing showed that both his speed and his vertical jump were just average. His agility scores were poor. Despite his poor scores at the combine, DeMarkus Lodge showed the ability to win on tape and found ways to minimize the effects of his seemingly average athleticism.
DeMarkus Lodge, like the other Ole Miss wide receivers, ran a fairly limited route tree and played a very specific role in the offense. Lodge ran primarily vertical routes with curls and comebacks mixed in for variety. He didn’t do much work over the middle and wasn’t asked to make plays out of horizontal breaks very often.
Despite this, DeMarkus Lodge showed the ability to create separation in multiple ways. While he isn’t particularly explosive out of his breaks, he shows good flexibility to make crisp cuts and does a good job to work back to the football on his comebacks and curls.
On vertical routes, Lodge does an excellent job of manipulating the defender and varies his speed well to help get an edge vertically. This is how DeMarkus Lodge is able to consistently win down the field, despite only average long speed. His attention to detail in his routes suggest that he should be able to work more horizontal breaking routes in the intermediate part of the field at the next level.
Lodge releases well at the line of scrimmage, plays physically to beat press coverage, and has active hands against physical corners. He should be more than adequate in this area in the NFL, and won’t be limited by his release ability at the next level. He should be able to play on the outside, or in the slot if he shows development in his route running.
After the catch, Lodge is better than I expected, given his size and athletic profile. He is smart with the football in his hands, runs physically and has just enough savvy in the open field to make the occasional defender miss. His opportunities in this area were limited on the tape I watched, but he seemed to do well when he had the chance.
DeMarkus Lodge is tremendous at tracking the ball down the field, over his shoulder, and getting his hands placed properly from different angles. He has very little wasted movement down the field and runs smoothly to the ball with little trouble.
Once the ball gets there, DeMarkus Lodge is excellent at the catch point. He has incredible body control with the ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes, contort his body, box out defenders, and has excellent sideline awareness. Similar to Riley Ridley, while he didn’t jump well at the combine, he times his jumps very well, which helps make up for his lack of true leaping ability.
DeMarkus Lodge extends for passes away from his body and is excellent at high pointing the football. Due to excellent tracking ability and hand placement, Lodge excels in contested catch situations, despite the fact that he doesn’t appear to have the strongest hands.
That brings us to the primary concerns with his games.
DeMarkus Lodge drops passes. He has issues with concentration drops and he can sometimes get the ball knocked away in contested catch situations. He wins with his body control and tracking, not with strong hands. He is going to be facing better corners in the NFL, corners that are more experienced and attack the football with more consistency. He has to get better at securing the ball at the catch point, or many of his positive traits will go to waste at the next level.
The second concern is obviously his athletic testing. I’m not concerned about his long speed and his ability to win vertically, because I think that he already does a nice job with subtlety and manipulation in his vertical routes, but I am concerned about his work in an expanded route tree. His attention to detail and flexibility suggest that he is capable of developing the rest of his routes, but there is obviously projection there.
So where does he project to at the next level? I think that Lodge could potentially play inside or out, which gives him a little bit of versatility, but he is probably a more natural fit on the outside. I’m interested to see what kind of draft capital a team dedicates to him, that will determine how early he will see the field. I think that his ability at the catch point and physicality at the top of his route should get him some early red zone work, and his versatility should get him work between the 20s. He’s probably a player that sees more playing time with each game in his rookie season.
Where am I willing to take him in dynasty fantasy football? That depends. He is going undrafted in a lot of rookie drafts right now. So I think you can take him close to as late as you want. That may change if a team goes into the NFL Draft and spends a third-round pick on him, but right now, you can basically get him for free. If he gets the necessary draft capital and dynasty owners start to pay attention, I think that round three is an appropriate time to consider him.