Haason Reddick was all smiles when the Arizona Cardinals announced their first round pick on Friday.
And for good reason.
The Temple edge rush was the #13 overall pick, a long way from being a preferred walk-on and being asked to leave the program.
“I wasn’t really given a chance to show what I could offer the team,” Reddick said. “I remember calling my parents every night and telling them, ‘I don’t think this is going to work. I’m really trying but I don’t think I’m going to be successful here.’”
At his parents’ persistence and a coaching change, Reddick stuck with hit. Matt Rhule, now the head coach at Baylor, moved him from the secondary to the defensive line, where Reddick filled up the stat sheet. His senior year, the defensive end collected 65 tackles, 22.5 for loss and 9.5 sacks.
But Reddick’s stock skyrocketed after an impressive Senior Bowl, one of the few times he was able to play against Power 5 talent in his college career.
“Before I went into the Senior Bowl, I felt like I was still a little bit under the radar,” Reddick said. “I think playing off-ball (linebacker), a lot of people opened up their eyes and was like, ‘Who is this kid?’ A kid that played defensive end, underweight in college, and now he comes to the Senior Bowl, plays off-ball (linebacker) and he looks natural at it.”
Reddick is slated to play in the linebacking corps, and it’s yet to be determined whether it will be on the interior or exterior. On Thursday, Steve Keim and Bruce Arians felt they had a weapon that can play either, and they have a coaching staff who has been able to convert “tweeners” into versatile playmakers like Tyrann Mathieu and Deone Bucannon.
“You wondered how well he would hold up as a linebacker because the biggest difference, the #1 difference, when playing off the ball is your eyes and playing from a different sight-line and line of sight as an off-ball linebacker,” Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher said.
— Mark Dalton (@CardsMarkD) April 28, 2017
“When he was able to do that and do that well…I’ve been involved in a few (defensive ends) who have moved to linebacker and a safety who has moved to linebacker, some of the hardest parts are those initial movement skills and your eyes. You saw a guy who when the ball was snapped, had great awareness, great eyes, quick to react.”
Also helping aid the transition to linebacker, and the NFL, is veteran signee Karlos Dansby. Reddick said the two have already spoken and the mentorship has already begun.
“He said he is excited that I was here and he looked forward to working with me and mentoring me,” Reddick said. “Any time a young guy can come out of college and immediately look up to someone and learn how to be a pro from somebody who has been around for years, I think that’s the best case scenario for him, and I think I’m truly blessed to be and lucky to be in that position.”
Of course! ✊?✊?✊? https://t.co/oO96FKeeG6
— Haason Reddick #7 (@Haason7Reddick) April 28, 2017
The Arizona Cardinals hold picks #45 and #77 in the second and third rounds, which take place Friday night.