Prospect Profile: LB Haason Reddick

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Leading up to the 2017 NFL draft, Dolphins.com will be profiling prospects who have been mentioned in national mock drafts as potential choices for the 22nd overall selection.

Among potential first-round prospects in the 2017 NFL draft, it might be difficult to find anyone who has come a longer way than Haason Reddick.

A couple of injuries marred his high school career and kept recruiters away from him, to the point where he had to walk on at Temple University. Five years and one position switch later, Reddick finds himself as one of the rising prospects heading into the draft.

“The journey has been nothing but hard work for me,” Reddick said at the scouting combine. “A lot of people think because I’m here now, the work is over. The work for me is not over. I’m going to continue to work hard. I’m going to continue to make sure I have a prosperous career in the NFL. But, as far as the overall journey, I’m living in the dream, and I don’t have to wake up. I’m extremely grateful and appreciative of this opportunity and I’m blessed to be in the position I’m in.”

Reddick’s journey was unusual not only because of his lightly regarded status coming out of high school or the position change, but rather because the position switch was something rarely seen — from cornerback to defensive end, with some action at linebacker mixed in.

It also provides a glimpse as to the kind of athletic ability Reddick possesses, an ability that was on full display at the Senior Bowl and the combine.

Because of his athleticism and his stature (6-1, 237), the expectation is that Reddick will be drafted as a linebacker. He worked at the position at the Senior Bowl and impressed scouts with his mobility.

“The versatility shows how athletic I am,” Reddick said. “It shows I can do multiple things. It’s more of the mind-set and approach I’m taking to it that’s going to help me the most. It’s not necessarily because I’m versatile it’s going to make me a good inside linebacker with the change, the way I’m going to attack the transition to being an inside linebacker, the things I’m going to do to make sure I am the best inside linebacker, at least the best rookie inside linebacker to come in next year, that’s what’s going to help me with the change.”

That Reddick, who finished third in the nation in 2016 with 22.5 tackles for loss and had 10.5 sacks, is even in this position is a testament to ability, hard work … and a little bit of luck.

Reddick explained the last part when he discussed at the combine how he wound up at Temple after initially not being aware he could simply walk on at a school.

“I thought my football career was over after high school,” Reddick said. “It just so happened my father, he was poking around, trying to see if there was any way I could get on the football team, and Coach Francis Brown — he’s at Baylor now — was on the first staff when I got there. We knew him from back home. He was a good friend of my uncle, my father. I actually did a couple workouts with him. He was coaching DBs back then. He got me on as a preferred walk-on. From there on out, there goes my career at Temple.”

Here was Lance Zierlein’s scouting report for Reddick on NFL.com:

Strengths: Explosive, quick-twitch athlete. Great flexibility with loose hips to turn, twist, and chase. Excellent reactive quickness and change-of-direction agility. Dynamic playmaker in space. Locks onto targets and instantly accelerates to the ball. Finished 2016 regular season with 21.5 tackles for loss. Fluid mover around field. Has chase range over extended territory. Eyes work past blockers and into backfield. Slips and slides around the edge and through small creases. Always working feet into improved positioning after contact. Came in as a defensive back and has experience on all three levels. Has athleticism in space and necessary instincts to be legit cover talent as linebacker. Rushes with good bend and forward lean. Difficult to handle on tackle/end twists back inside. Turns corner with tight track to quarterback once he pries the edge open.

Weaknesses: Undersized by NFL standards for position he’s currently playing. Labors to disengage once size is on top of him. Will need more play strength to ward off NFL blockers. Improving with hands, but needs to continue technique work to control blockers. Lacks necessary bulk, length, and play strength to set a strong edge as an NFL 3-4 outside linebacker. Marginal speed-to-power ability. Connects and sticks to tackles when trying to bull-rush under their pads. Pass rush reliant upon athletic talent and cursory hand play. Needs more diversified rush plans. Slides off of too many tackles. Missed 16 tackles over final two seasons at Temple. Needs to chest-up and run feet through contact. Played in fewer than 70 percent of team’s defensive snaps.

NFL comparison: Ryan Shazier

Bottom line: Injuries limited Reddick to just four games over last two years of high school, forcing him to walk on at Temple. The Owls staff helped him unlock his explosive athletic traits on the field, which resulted in three forced fumbles, 9.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2016. Reddick’s speed and athleticism might give him a greater shot at impacting the game as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 WILL rather than trying to bulk up and play the edge. An ascending prospect with a high-end potential if he can continue to hone his craft.

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