When an un-drafted free agent is tasked with selecting which team he is to sign with at the conclusion of the draft, a lot goes into that decision making process.
Money of course plays a role, but there’s often so much more to it. Which team offers the best opportunity? Where do I really have a chance to make the final roster? And perhaps most importantly, which team did I really vibe with throughout the process? It’s important to analyze culture fit and develop coaching relationships.
The Titans recently confirmed the signing of 14 un-drafted free agents, and former Arizona State tight end Tommy Hudson is among them. The Titans are a tough, physical football team and Hudson was one of the toughest blocking tight ends in all of college football. It goes right back to analyzing the culture fit.
Hudson recently spoke with MCM about how he formed a relationship with the Titans, what he brings to the table, and what his goals and aspirations are over these next few months as he tries to secure a spot on the Titans roster. I find the fit between Hudson and Titans to be a very good one.
JM: Congratulations on signing with the Titans as an un-drafted free agent. What was your draft experience like?
TH: Thank you so much. It was a relatively good experience. I didn’t enter the weekend with high expectations. I knew that I wasn’t going to get drafted within the first two days. I had a chance to get drafted on late Day 3. Of course, that didn’t happen. I have a great opportunity in front of me with the Titans. It all worked out for the best.
JM: How did the opportunity with the Titans come about?
TH: Coach [Mike] Vrabel and his staff reached out to me a few weeks before the draft. We had a good connection. The communication between us just felt right. We continued to build that relationship. Once the draft was over, they were the first team to call me. They called me the second the draft was over. They wanted to work something out with my agent. It worked out really well for me.
JM: It sounds like you had some good discussions with them prior to the draft.
TH: Yeah, I had a few meetings over FaceTime with coach Vrabel. The general manager [Jon Robinson] was on a few of the calls as well. I also spoke with their tight end coach Todd Downing. I had contact with a good amount of their staff members so I knew that the interest was real. I felt like they really wanted me be a part of their organization. There was a chance they were going to take a tight end late in the seventh round, and there was a good chance it was going to be me. They obviously went in a different direction but they were quick to sign me as a UDFA.
TE Tommy Hudson, Arizona State— PFF TEN Titans (@PFF_Titans) April 26, 2020
Finished his career top-25 in both pass-blocking (72.9, T-13th) and run-blocking grades (67.8, 24th) among TEs
Not know as a receiver, caught 25 of 32 targets for 205 and 0 TDs in the last 3 seasons #Titanup pic.twitter.com/BukiHiG1zl
JM: I imagine you had some other offers on the table, but it sounds like you built some good relationships with the Titans.
TH: Yeah, the culture fit here just makes so much sense to me. I look at the way they play football and it really matches my play style. My agent and I identified this opportunity as a place for me to go and compete for a spot on the final roster. They’re all about playing tough, hard-nosed football. This is a very tough football team. Those are also the characteristics that define how I play the game. You don’t get a lot of opportunities at the next level. To have this opportunity here, it just felt right to me.
JM: How would you describe your play style?
TH: I have a dog mentality. I’m always ready to hit somebody over and over again. I enjoy doing that. I never turn down a chance to engage in physical contact. In fact, I’m always seeking it out. I’m always looking for somebody to block. I’m willing to play the game longer than my opponent is. I’m trying to take their will away. I feel like that’s my best attribute as a football player. I won’t back down from a challenge. I could be smaller than the guy I’m up against, but I’m going to put my face right in there. I’ll live with the results.
JM: You’re certainly not under-sized for that role. You come in at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds. It sounds like you love to block.
TH: It’s fun to catch the ball and move the chains, but physically dominating my opponent is more fulfilling to me. You can see the quit in his eyes. That’s the most enjoyable aspect of football to me. Anyone can go catch a wide open pass and pick up a first down. To specifically take control of another man and watch him quit in the middle of a game, there’s no feeling quite like that.
JM: I find that very interesting. I can see why you identified the Titans as the right culture fit for you. You don’t find many tight ends in college nowadays that love to block. The position has almost become a bigger wide receiver. How did you develop your love of blocking?
TH: I think it was just the role that I was put into. Arizona State didn’t ask us tight ends to do a ton in the passing game. I had to find my role and carve out a way to get onto the field. They really relied on me heavy in the run game. It became a staple of how we got things going on offense. I take pride in the details and in the dirty work. That was a big coaching point from our staff. I trusted the process and I did things the right way. It all worked out for me. It put me in a position to become a good blocker. I’m very detailed with my assignments. I’m very aggressive as a blocker.
It’s what separates me from other tight ends who focus on being a receiver first and foremost. That’s not who I am. A lot of tight ends don’t enjoy playing in the trenches. I couldn’t be any more different than those guys. There’s a lot of guys that can catch a football, but there aren’t enough tight ends that have that dog mentality to go put their hand in the dirt and block a three-technique or a nose blocker on at trap block. I can bang heads with linebackers all day long. It takes a different type of dog to do that.
JM: I can tell that you’re truly one of a kind. I actually saw a video of you on Twitter pulling a truck. That’s crazy. Are there any other crazy feats of strength that we should know about?
TH: You saw that? (laughs). I love to work hard. I’m always trying to get stronger. I work hard every single day. I pride myself off that. That’s what my day-to-day life is all about. I make sure that I always get my workout in. I’m always pushing myself. I don’t need anybody to motivate me. It shows up on the field. It’s going to give me an advantage at the next level. I have a great work ethic. I’m going to continue to grow at the next level.
JM: I love that. Is there one Titans players that you’re excited to meet? Maybe somebody on defense that you’d like to practice against, or even somebody on offense that can give you some advice?
TH: I’m excited to get into that tight end room. Jonnu Smith is a beast. I’m excited to pick his brain. Every tight end in that room really, it’s going to be fun to meet all of those guys. I’m mostly excited to see Derrick Henry run the ball (laughs). I think he’s just an absolute beast. I’m excited to block for a guy like that. He’s an All-Pro running back that’s just a freaking giant out there. Watching him run over people and finish for extra yards is very inspiring. I can’t wait to block for him. I’m gonna do everything I can to help him pick up some extra first downs and touchdowns. Derrick Henry would be my answer.
JM: The way you love to block, I can totally see that. I’ve really appreciated your time today, Tommy. In closing, what are your goals and aspirations over these next few months?
TH: I’m just trying to mentally prepare myself for what’s next. When the time comes for us to hit the field, I want to hit the ground running. I don’t want there to be some giant learning curve because I didn’t prepare myself. The game comes at you fast at the next level. I can control my preparation and attention to detail. I’m going to continue to attack the way that I prepare and lay the foundation down so that I can master the offense. I’m going to spend a lot of time studying and watching film. I’m going to learn as much as possible. That’s what my main focus is right now. I’m staying positive. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity. I’m not taking it for granted.