Is Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson too short for the NFL?

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Cornerback Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson had an exceptional college career at TCU where he was a three-time All-Big-12 selection and a 2022 Associated Press First-Team All-American selection.

Hodges-Tomlinson also received the Jim Thorpe Award annually given out to the top defensive back in college football and is rated as one of the top cornerbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Despite all these accolades, Hodges-Tomlinson wasn’t invited to the Senior Bowl due to concerns about his height. While officially listed at 5-foot-9, some suspect he’s closer to 5-foot-7.

”That’s part of it, for sure,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said. “I I mean, he’s 5-7. Our goal is to get all our players drafted. You go back and look at historically at 5-7 corners getting drafted. There’s not that many. Not saying he can’t. He’s a really good football player.”

Is Nagy right?

Can an NFL cornerback be successful at his size?

NFL history says yes.

Super Bowl

This week the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs will square off in Super Bowl LVII. Both teams have key cornerback contributors under six feet.

Trent McDuffie, 5-foot-11

Outside of defensive lineman Chris Jones, McDuffie is the most important player on the Kansas City defense. The rookie cornerback had an impact on the Chiefs during the regular season.

McDuffie was given the third-best coverage grade out of any cornerback in the NFL during the regular season. Once McDuffie returned from a hamstring injury the Chiefs’ pass defense exponentially improved.

Avonte Maddox, 5-foot-9

The Eagles ‘ Maddox is listed as 5-foot-9. The cornerback was ranked as the ninth-best slot cornerback in the league by pro football focus in 2022.

Maddox has been key to the Eagles defense which ranked as the league’s No. 1 passing unit during the regular season.

NFL standouts

The NFL has a long history of smaller cornerbacks finding success in the league.

Mark McMillian, 5-foot-7

Nicknamed ‘Mighty Mouse” for his diminutive size, McMillian played eight seasons in the NFL with five different teams. McMillian led the league in interception return yards in 1997 and accrued 23 interceptions over his career.

Brent Grimes, 5-foot-10

Grimes went undrafted out of Shippensburg University before signing with the Atlanta Falcons but would find his best success with Miami Dolphins. From 2013-2015, Grimes made three straight Pro Bowls and was selected to the 2014 NFL All-Pro second team.

Antoine Winfield Sr., 5-foot-9

Winfield was a standout at Ohio State and starred for the Vikings earning three Pro Bowls and an NFL All-Pro selection. He was also named one of the 50 greatest Vikings of all time by the organization in 2010.

Asante Samuel Sr., 5-foot-10

A prolific cornerback for Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, Samuel was known as one of the NFL’s preeminent ball hawks. Samuel led the NFL in interceptions in 2006 and 2009 and won two Super Bowls with the Patriots. He was also selected to four Pro Bowls and had two NFL All-Pro selections.

Current NFL Standouts

Asante Samuel Jr., 5-foot-10

Playing for the Los Angeles Chargers, Samuel is one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, Samuel Jr was given the best coverage grade in the entire league and notably snagged three interceptions in his playoff debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kenny Moore Jr. , 5-foot-9

Moore has been one of the best slot corners in the NFL since joining the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. Moore has 14 interceptions over his career and is among the league leaders for interceptions from the slot since he entered the league. Moore was selected for the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl.

Chris Harris Jr., 5-foot-10

Harris emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the league during his tenure with the Denver Broncos. While on the team Harris Jr amassed three NFL All-Pro selections, four Pro Bowl selections, a Super Bowl championship, and was elected a member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade team.

Jason Verrett, 5-foot-10

Another fellow Horned Frog, Verrett was selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and has played crucial roles for both the Chargers and the 49ers. Verrett earned a Pro Bowl selection during the 2015 NFL season.