The Patriots love to take college edge rushers with good movement skills and move them off the ball in a linebacker capacity. The Patriots have taken guys like Tedy Bruschi and Jamie Collins, two productive edge rushers in college, and moved them both off the ball. Reddick measured in at the Senior Bowl at 6’ 1.5” 237, which is a bit smaller than what the Patriots usually go at linebacker. However, that was the same stature Jerod Mayo measured in the 2008 combine and the Patriots drafted the 5’11” 230 Elandon Roberts last year, so size isn’t everything. Reddick initially walked on as a CB due to injuries in high school, but developed as an edge rusher at Temple in five years.
At the Senior Bowl, coaches had him move off the ball where he thrived in a linebacker capacity. The versatility to be both an edge rusher and a linebacker is what should have the Patriots taking a deeper look when the Combine rolls around later this month. A strong Combine could put him in the first round. Reddick a very productive 2016 season that resulted in 9.5 sacks and 21 TFL, although I don’t think he’ll be staying on the edge at the NFL level. Reddick also makes for a tricky projection based off tape because of the likely position change after he gets drafted. However, his versatility will appeal to teams like the Patriots that run multiple fronts. He’ll be rotating in as an ILB in both a 4-3 and 3-4 as well as a 4-3 LEO in even fronts.
Vs. Memphis 2016
Against Memphis, he had a solid game. He rushed from both the left and right side from either a 2, 3, or 4 point stance. On one play was used as a spy. On the Tigers’ opening drive of the 2nd half, Reddick caused three consecutive losses. Didn’t win as often as I expected with his athleticism, which makes him a better fit as a linebacker than a defensive end in the NFL. The athleticism showed up on one play where he chased down a Jet Sweep from the opposite side of the field in the 4th quarter for a loss.
Vs. Cincinnati 2016
Reddick’s tape against Cincinnati is not as good as Memphis. A lot of the time either Reddick was blocked out of the play or unable to turn the corner on a speed rush. He made a lot of hustle plays chasing down the ball carrier and look natural dropping into coverage, further suggesting a move to LB in the NFL. The Patriots are best served to limit the number of snaps he has on the edge and allow him to freely flow to the ball. Temple’s DTs did not play nearly as good a game against Cincinnati as they did Memphis.
Vs. Southern Florida 2016
Temple used Reddick as a spy on 3rd and long distance situations against a mobile QB, so that says a lot about his athleticism. He made a handful of hustle plays, including stuffing an end-around to his side of the field in the 3rd quarter. Missed a chance to pick up a safety late in the game with a 7-point lead when he was in a spy role. Tape was better than Cincinnati, but inability to consistently win on the edge makes him a better fit to play linebacker at the next level.
Mike Mayock had this to say about Reddick:
Player who made the most money
Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple: He had a really impressive week. He was a hand-in-the-dirt 4-3 defensive end with a lot of sack production at Temple, but down here they asked him to stand up and play two different positions, and every day he got better. And his attitude about the switch was terrific; I got a kick out of how he embraced it. The last two days of practice, I don't think he lost a rep. He bounced around and made plays all week. At 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds, most see him as a tweener, but I think he showed versatility. I came into the week wondering what he would be at the next level, and at the end of the practice sessions I left thinking he could be an inside linebacker in a 3-4, an inside linebacker in a 4-3, and an occasional edge rusher. Bottom line: He showed he can do a bunch of things and do them well. He might not have to come off the field.
Long term fit: Reddick likely will move around the Front 7, spending time as an off-the-ball linebacker and some time on the edge like Tedy Bruschi and Dont’a Hightower have in New England. With Dont’a Hightower (franchise tag) and Kyle Van Noy (rookie deal expiring) liking heading for unrestricted FA after the 2017, the Patriots might indeed try to groom a linebacker behind those two. Reddick is the perfect player to put in that capacity in 2017. As primarily an edge rusher in college, Reddick doesn’t have the same institutional knowledge to play LB as your average LB prospect, but the Patriots have a great LB he can learn from in Dont’a Hightower who will be on the team in 2017 even if it means paying him the franchise tag.
Prospect comparison: Kyle Van Noy. Similar to the current Patriots linebacker, Van Noy was a converted edge rusher who can cover and rush the passer. The Patriots utilized him on passing downs and he had a decent amount of success over half a season. His athleticism makes him a perfect fit for a strong-side linebacker position where he’ll be splitting time off the ball and occasionally rushing from the edge in both the run and pass game. The Patriots could be looking at him either at the bottom of the first round or top of the second if they trade down from the 32nd pick. Reddick is probably going to have to spend most of his rookie year on Special Teams and as a backup to both Hightower and a combination of Shea McClellin, Roberts, and/or Van Noy. The Patriots can stash and groom Reddick for a LB role in 2018.