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Dan Campbell Reveals First Impression of LB Malcolm Rodriguez

Detroit Lions' new linebacker flashed potential in coverage at rookie minicamp.

Many late-round NFL draft picks understand the pathway to initially earning a 53-man roster position is to shine on special teams. 

Sixth-round pick Malcolm Rodriguez understands earning playing time at the linebacker position is going to take time. 

Prior to rookie minicamp practice on Saturday, head coach Dan Campbell was asked what his first impression was of the 5-foot-11, 230-pound linebacker. 

“Look, there again, it’s day one out there. I know this, he looks the part. I mean he is in excellent shape, and he’s been training," Campbell said. "Now, those guys have been training for the Combine, all of them. So, they’re not in the greatest football shape right now, but you can tell he’s been working, and he certainly looks the part, seems to be pretty smart, like we thought he would be. We’ll see where it goes.”

During the portion of practice that was open to the media, the talented linebacker was able to drop back in coverage and stuck closely to the intended target, breaking up the play and earning praise from his position coach, Kelvin Sheppard. 

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"Being able to run and open up is one of those things that backers do now in the league," Rodriguez explained to reporters. "To be able to cover wheel routes and stuff like that is a huge plus for a linebacker"

Being a two-time state wrestling champion and initially playing safety collegiately at Oklahoma State have given Rodriguez added confidence that he can adapt to the linebacker position at the next level. 

"I'm able to see different angles, and I get skinny where others can't," he said. "It's one of those things, I've been in a lot of positions in wrestling. So, it's just kind of natural for me to use my instincts and kind of slip through things."

Despite being slightly undersized to play linebacker, the first-year pro is planning to excel however the Lions' coaching staff intends to utilize his skill set. 

"It's one of those things that if you have the mechanics and the technique down, you're able to make plays and visualize what's happening," Rodriguez said.