Sure, Haason Reddick may not have played linebacker while at Temple, but his top-notch footwork should allow him to excel there in the NFL.
What you need to know: Reddick was a running back and DB in high school, who then walked on at Temple before eventually being moved to defensive end. Suffice it to say, he has come a long way since then. Reddick redshirted in 2012 and only saw limited action in 2013. By 2015, though, he was locked in as a starter at DE, and he produced 13.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks that season. Last year, en route to a first-team All-AAC nod and Senior Bowl invite, Reddick elevated his numbers to 22.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. He also picked off a pass, in the Owls’ AAC title-game victory over Navy. Reddick wrapped his Temple career with 147 tackles (47.0 for loss) and 17.5 sacks.
Strengths: Arguably no player has helped himself as much in the post-college season, pre-draft window as Reddick. He wowed folks at the Senior Bowl, as he made an on-the-fly transition from his college position of defensive end to his likely NFL spot as a linebacker, and then he blew up the combine (4.52-second 40, 36.5" vertical, 133" broad jump).
Reddick (6' 1", 237) looked comfortable in all situations during Senior Bowl week. He was a showstopper in one-on-ones, and he had no glaring issues during coverage drills—his background as a defensive back no doubt helping him a bit there. His size makes it almost impossible to see him as a full-time edge player in the NFL, but he is explosive enough there—and was productive enough in that role at Temple—to bring some occasional heat outside, too.
It’s not so much a question of what Reddick can do as a pro, but if there will be anything that he can’t do.
“The versatility shows how athletic I am,” Reddick said. “It shows I can do multiple things. ...
“It doesn’t matter who they put in front of me, or what they ask me to do. I’m just going to try to do it as best as I can. That’s the approach I took at Senior Bowl.”
Reddick’s effort level is high, but it’s really his footwork that allows him to excel. He was able to turn the corner on offensive tackles, while also having the ability to change directions and pursue a play when necessary. That same quickness should translate to his linebacker duties. It definitely did during those Senior Bowl trial runs, as Reddick fired downhill toward the ball with the same gusto that he locked on backs in man coverage.
He’s going to be a fun chip for an NFL defensive coordinator, even if it takes a little while to figure out exactly how to use him.
Weaknesses: A little bit of the Jabrill Peppers discussion resurfaces here, because a team will be drafting Reddick at a position he didn’t play in college. Peppers at least did put in some time at safety; Reddick was a multi-year starter at defensive end, who now will have to learn the intricacies of playing an off-ball linebacker role.
Reddick will have to adjust to the physical demands of his new position, as much as anything. He does play with some strength (24 bench-press reps at the combine), but he had a difficult time fending off blockers when he did not win with his initial quickness. Can he stay clean on the second level? Also, can he wrap up on a consistent basis? Missing a tackle from an ILB spot in a 3–4 is more problematic than failing to wrap up as a DE. NFL.com had him with 16 missed tackles over the 2015–16 seasons combined.
This is going to be a fascinating study. Reddick has all the athletic ability an NFL team could want in a linebacker, but how long will it take him to settle in to his new role?
NFL player comp: Deion Jones