Mobile, Ala. — The Miami Dolphins will likely consider drafting a linebacker with speed, instincts, an ability to hold up against the run and also affect quarterbacks with pressure.
The Dolphins should consider players like Haason Reddick of Temple, a former walk-on defensive back/running back who emerged as a pass-rushing defensive end and projects as either an outside or inside linebacker in the NFL.
Versatility is the key for this sideline-to-sideline run-chasing demon who showed at the Senior Bowl he can move well in space, cover running backs or tight ends and make the type of impact plays Miami lacked in 2016.
“I am a versatile guy,” Reddick said at the Senior Bowl. “I’ve got great athleticism. Great instincts. I can learn fast. Which allows me to learn multiple positions. With the hard work that I put in my talents, my skills and my instincts take over the rest. And it allows me to make plays.”
Exactly what Miami needs more of.
Some draft analysts suggest Reddick could sneak into the first round although a more likely landing spot would be the second.
At the end of Senior Bowl practices, NFL.com draft expert Mike Mayock cited Reddick as the one player who “made the most money” during the week.
“At 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds, most see him as a tweener, but I think he showed versatility,” Mayock said. “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.”
Reddick is the 41st-best player in the draft according to NFL.com draft expert Daniel Jeremiah.
“He has ideal size, instincts, versatility, and explosiveness,” Jeremiah said. “Against the run, he is quick to shoot his hands, hold the point of attack, and locate the football… He shows tremendous burst, effort, and range from the backside. He is a very skilled blitzer. He has a nifty dip-rip move and excels at avoiding running backs on the way to the passer. He has the speed and agility to match up with backs and tight ends in man coverage.”
Reddick had 46 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks as a junior.
Reddick had 65 tackles, including 22.5 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks as a senior.
Miami needs to add more linebackers who can create tackles for loss.
Who does Reddick remind some scouts of? Reddick compares to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, according to NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlien.
Reddick grew up in rough Camden, New Jersey, and he plays with hunger and grit.
“It was violent where I grew up,” he said. “There is no way around that. That is the only way to put that. But I love my city. I just wanted a different way out. I wanted to make something of myself. I wanted to be something.”
Temple came a long way as a program in the past few years, especially on defense. One very memorable game came in 2015, when Reddick and his teammates sacked then-Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg 10 times.
Yes, 10 times.
Reddick and his teammates mauled Hackenberg like a pride of hungry Lions.
“It was a beautiful thing,” Reddick recalled. “We played hard. We played physical. Our thing is we were competitors. And one of the things we do is to not be out-physicaled. We did not allow anybody to impose their will on us. We impose our will on them.”
Reddick may need some time to master the finer points of playing linebacker on most downs after playing with his hand on the ground on most downs in college.
But he has the type of relentless, ball-chasing mentality the Dolphins crave.
“It’s hard to get tackles,” Reddick said. “After the game, we look at the stat sheet to see who had the most tackles. My thing is, I want to be able to clean up if somebody misses a tackle. I want to be the guy that if somebody misses the tackle, I’ve got your back, that’s OK. I have fun. I don’t even consciously think about it when I’m doing it. I see the ball. I go get the ball. I stop the ball as fast as I can.”
Reddick recalled with pride one particular play last season, when he chased down a ball carrier from behind more than 30 yards down the field, on his opposite sideline.
“Man, what are you doing over here?” Reddick recalled a teammate saying at the end of the play.
The Dolphins need a few more “Man, what are you doing over here?” players in their lineup in 2017.