By Chad Bellin. “With the 13th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select… Haason Reddick, Linebacker, Temple University.”
With the way the first round of the NFL Draft unfolded, this was a great selection by the Cardinals. As soon as the quarterbacks started coming off the board, local media as well as some national pundits started linking Reddick with the Cardinals.
Haason Reddick’s story is well known by now. He entered college as a walk-on from Camden, New Jersey, and worked his way up to a full scholarship and all-conference honors in his senior season. Reddick brings impeccable character and tremendous athleticism to the Cardinals’ defense and should make an impact right away.
Reddick was an effective edge-rusher for Temple, but will need to either bulk up or fill a slightly different role in the NFL. If the Senior Bowl was any indication, inside linebacker is a distinct possibility, and that’s a huge need for the Arizona Cardinals. Most likely, the Cardinals will use Reddick in a variety of slots on defense, similar to Deone Bucannon. Reddick will need to improve his tackling, and be stronger at the point of attack.
All of that aside, Reddick’s 4.5 speed, strength, and pure athleticism will allow him to make an impact immediately with the Cardinals. An aging Karlos Dansby is all that stands in the way of Reddick starting at linebacker, and that will happen sooner rather than later. It’s not a stretch to think Reddick could play a lot even in his rookie season, and probably record a few sacks along the way. Longer-term, Reddick should be an every-down linebacker capable of rushing the passer, filling the gap, or dropping back into coverage in the middle.
Fantasy Football Outlook
Clearly a rookie linebacker doesn’t have a lot of direct fantasy value. Even in the coming seasons, Reddick may not be an IDP superstar. But his playmaking ability will help the Cardinals force more turnovers and put up better statistics than they did in 2016.