Haason Reddick made himself some serious money this weekend. Players can move up and down the NFL Draft board by how they do at the Scouting Combine, and the Temple defensive end was awesome on Sunday. How awesome? He’s probably going to be a first round pick in April.
Reddick had the fastest 40 yard dash time of every defensive lineman at the Combine this season — the second fastest time for all linemen and linebackers, where he will probably end up playing in NFL.
He had the sixth-best vertical jump of all linebackers and defensive linemen, leaping 36.5 inches, and had the top broad jump in either group, jumping 11’1”, a record for defensive linemen at the Combine.
Reddick had the seventh-best time in the 3 cone drill and the 10th-best time in the 20-yard shuttle for defensive linemen, both considered Top Performer numbers by the NFL, though not the top of the class. Still, for a guy who was a walk-on four years ago, this is pretty incredible.
The NFL Network analysts were raving about Reddick all afternoon. Draft guru and Philly guy Mike Mayock called Reddick, “a really explosive athlete,” and explained how much he helped himself at both the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine.
“A really good career at Temple, but everybody’s, ‘ah, but he can’t stand up, he’s probably going to be a fourth or fifth round pick,’” Mayock said after Reddick’s 4.52 40-yard dash. “He’s now in the conversation as a late first round pick early second round pick.
“This Temple kid has completely helped himself and I’ve got a lot of respect for his game.”
Former player personnel executive and NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah went further in his praise of Reddick, stating, “He’s going to go in the first round. It’s hard to find guys like this that can play inside. At the Senior Bowl, his ability to see things and sort through things was impressive for having not done it.
“And [if] you’ve got to cover all those fast tight ends,” Jeremiah said, “you have to have athletic inside linebackers and that’s exactly what Reddick is.”
Listed as a defensive end because he played there most of his time at Temple, Reddick has played linebacker before and even played safety in high school, so if he’s asked to move to inside linebacker at the NFL level, it could be something he’s more familiar with than other defensive end prospects. The NFL Network crew lauded his versatility. It was once a knock for undersized defensive ends in college turning pro and being forced to play linebacker, but in today’s NFL, the versatility of a player like Reddick is seen as an asset, not a detriment.
Besides, as he proved in his 40-yard dash, he may be undersized as a defensive end, but he’s not too slow to play linebacker.
“That’s the value that you’re looking for. You’re looking for blue chip players who can do a variety of different things,” former player, scout and current NFL analyst Bucky Brooks said Sunday. “He can do that, whether it’s as an edge player, whether it’s moving back to inside linebacker or in coverage or coming off the edge. He has a lot of things he brings to the table.”
Reddick had 65 tackles last season for Temple — one off the team lead — and racked up 22.5 tackles for loss, including 10.5 sacks during his senior campaign. He also forced three fumbles and had an interception, but his ability to play in space at the Senior Bowl is what opened some NFL eyes. Originally Reddick was seen as a mid-round pick, but his stock has risen more than perhaps any other player in the draft this season.
NFL Draft guru Lance Zierlein called him, “the new face of NFL versatility,” which is incredible praise for a guy who wasn’t even sure he would ever get the chance to play college football. The Camden, N.J. native opted to walk on at Temple in 2012, not sure he would even make the team, and after reshirting his first year, and playing mostly on special teams the next, he worked his way up to becoming an All-American his senior season.
“This is a former defensive back who has been playing a little bit of linebacker, a lot of defensive end, and he’s going to transition to back to linebacker,” Zierlein explained during a recap of Reddick’s performance in Indianapolist. “I think he can play 4-3 WILL, I think he can play 3-4 inside ‘backer and I think he can play 3-4 outside linebacker or rush ‘backer on sub packages.
“He’s the new face of NFL versatility,” Zierlein said. “A guy that can play all over the field and really be a weapon for a creative defensive coordinator to deploy.”
There are still some questions in Reddick’s game. Are his hands good enough to play linebacker? Can he read the offense from that spot on the field after spending most of his Temple career with his hand in the dirt, rushing the edge? Is durability a concern? The NFL.com scouting report noted he only played in 70 percent of Temple’s defensive snaps. For a player seen as this versatile to scouts, that’s a particularly interesting note.
For now, as Reddick comes back home to prepare for his Pro Day, he knows that after a successful Senior Bowl and a stellar Combine, the questions marks in his game won’t keep him from getting drafted; they might only keep him from being picked in the first round. More than likely, given what the scouts and pundits were saying this Sunday, he might just get his Art Museum moment in the NFL Draft’s first round.