Hodge, one of four North Carolina players picked in this weekend's NFL Draft, thought he would be chosen early in the second round.
Nervousness set in when the New Orleans Saints, one of three teams Hodge visited before the draft, traded the 53rd overall pick to the Dallas Cowboys and received the 70th selection in return.
The excitement -- and relief -- came when New Orleans snatched him up in the third round with the 70th pick. One day shortly before the draft, Hodge wore a Saints T-shirt in Chapel Hill that he had picked up during his visit to New Orleans.
"I had a feeling they were going to pick me up," Hodge said. "I thought they were going to pick me with the 53rd pick, but they traded down. They eventually got me, though."
Hodge was the sixth linebacker chosen, with only Miami's Dan Morgan going in the first round. Six linebackers were picked in the first round last year.
"I think this draft was more of a offensive lineman and defensive lineman draft, and last year was more of a linebacker-oriented draft," Hodge said. "It just fell on the wrong year."
This year's draft was kind to North Carolina's tight ends. The Atlanta Falcons took Alge Crumpler in the second round with the 35th pick, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Dauntae Finger in the seventh round with the 205th pick.
Crumpler said he was happy to end up with the Falcons, who drafted quarterback Michael Vick with the No. 1 overall pick.
"There's a buzz around town with them picking up Michael Vick first and me second," Crumpler said. "I'm just excited about the opportunity I have to be an Atlanta Falcon."
Brandon Spoon was the third North Carolina player to get selected when Buffalo took him in the fourth round Sunday with the 110th overall pick.
Spoon had worked out for three teams in the AFC East -- the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and New England Patriots.
"It surprised me because I didn't think they needed a middle linebacker as much as they did," Spoon said. "Buffalo's been real high on me since the Senior Bowl."
Spoon said he should fit in well with Buffalo's new 4-3 defensive scheme. The Bills' coaches called him moments before his name was announced at the draft and told him they expect him to play early.
But before Spoon worries too much about the upcoming NFL season -- or even this weekend's mini-camp -- he wants to sit back and enjoy being selected.
"I'm just going to celebrate the next couple of days," Spoon said. "I'm still going to work out, but I'm going to relax. But come Thursday, my job starts."
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