Many were surprised when the Detroit Lions switched to linebacker drafting in the first two days of the NFL Draft in 2022. Seen as arguably the Lions’ most important need to attend the three-day event, Detroit waited for Pick 188 to also select a linebacker: Oklahoma State’s Malcolm Rodriguez.
Many Lions fans fell in love immediately. Rodriguez is undersized, but he is a persistent player, a good defender, and a strong leader. In his rookie mini-camp, he stood out simply because, while the other defenders were closely trained by the Lions staff, it appeared they hardly had any notes for Rodriguez. He was already doing exactly what they wanted.
Of course, it’s important to recall that Rodriguez is the sixth round type. I expect him to step in and take the opening role – either this year or … everyone year – would be an extraordinary result above expectations if day three were chosen. Still, some have high hopes for the ex-wrestler (drink!).
So are Lions fans irrational about choosing day three, or does Rodriguez really have such a high ceiling?
We talked for about 30 minutes with the Oklahoma State beat writer Scott Wright of Oklahoman find out everything we can about Rodriguez. Wright does believe Detroit has lost to Rodriguez, and while he doesn’t anticipate winning the job right away, he believes Rodriguez may have a long career in the NFL.
“Here’s what it will bring and why I think it’s really valuable – great value – as a choice in the sixth round,” Wright told us. “Throughout his career, he has shown that playing in special teams is not a problem for him. He is delighted to be on the pitch in any situation. He was always eager to go out and do what he needed for his team, and I can only imagine it being amplified on the next level as he understands how big a deal it is to be part of an NFL squad.
“Being the guy who comes in with his athleticism, speed and fighting skills, he can be really valuable as a special team guy. I think this will be a big key to his presence in the squad, whether it’s Lions or someone else when the season kicks off. So I see this as a tremendous value to him as his career progresses.
“From there, as a linebacker, he needs to be in a good position to be put to good use as he has some innate weaknesses that come with not being as big as any guy who is in his position. The best thing for him is to be put to good use and used in situations that take advantage of his strengths, which are mainly sticking to the edges and coming out to play, being able to use that speed to chase the ball carriers and perform tackles. So if the team understands how to use him and play to capitalize on his strengths, I think he has a chance to be the guy who has a really solid career in the NFL.
Don’t miss this full interview that Malcolm Rodriguez’s mom called “One of the best podcasts I have seen” (really) – below:
Also, if you want to read some of the things Wright wrote about Rodriguez, here are two profiles from The Oklahoman:
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