With the 13th overall selection in last night’s NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected the versatile Haason Reddick out of Temple University.
Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim joined The Jim Rome Show on Friday and shared his initial impression of meeting Reddick for the first time at the NFL Combine.
“This guy has an eternal chip that sits on his shoulder and his passion, his energy are really infectious when he walked in our interview room,” Keim said. “He had just this infectious smile, this way about him, yet at the same time, you could tell he was a passionate guy who had a presence and that was one of the things that drew us to him.”
Not only did Reddick’s character impress Keim, but the general manager said he also checked every box in his scouting evaluation.
“I mean the tape was excellent. Ten-and-a-half sacks, he was explosive,” Keim said. “He went to the Senior Bowl, he played stack linebacker, which he has never done before, and he looked like a guy who made the transition with ease, which we know is hard to do when you’re playing with your eyes and instincts.
“And then he went to the combine and blew up the tests, running a 4.4. at 240-pounds and he’s 6-foot-2, and then we just talked to the kid more and more and then brought him out here to Phoenix and again just the mentality that he has, and the adversity that he has faced in his life. We just felt he would be a great fit in this organization.”
The general manager hit home the point again that Reddick’s makeup is refreshing.
“A lot of these young men were big time 5-star recruits where they were coddled at whatever college they played at. Here’s a guy who had to work for everything he got,” Keim said. “Being a walk-on at Temple, growing up tough, and he is really, really made a tough situation turn into a success story, and I admire him for that, and that will carry over on to his NFL career. Because these guys, they all face adversity. Whether it’s adversity in their home life, adversity on the field, and the guys who are weak mentally and weak physically, they don’t know how to respond. Well, when things are going to happen to Haason Reddick, he is definitely going to answer the bell, in my opinion.”
With the NFL skewing more and more towards the passing game, Keim said Reddick’s scheme versatility is exactly what he wants. Head Coach Bruce Arians compared Reddick to Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, but Keim was thinking of a different linebacker who plays inside a lot.
“More along the lines of Ryan Shazier with the Steelers. A guy who, in terms of the size, the speed, and the explosiveness, this kid is a little more unique in terms of positional flexibility. With the chance to play outside linebacker in our scheme, to play inside,” Keim said. “There’s no secret we have coveted hybrid players here the last several years. Talking about guys like Tyrann Mathieu, who can play deep, they can play in the slot. Guys like Deone Bucannon, who’ve played safety, they can play Will linebacker.
“So to me, this game has become a matchup game, an isolation in space game. So to have a linebacker who can not only bounce to play outside linebacker, rush the passer, or to play stacked in the box and cover backs and tight ends, to me, I think it’s a tremendous benefit.”
Keim also said Reddick is a quick learner. Case in point when he learned to play middle linebacker Senior Bowl week.
“That’s what’s amazing to me. That’s like using your right hand all your life and then all the sudden having to use your left to do some things, and it’s an awkward thing and he made it look easy,” Keim said. “I’ve not scouted a guy in 19 years of doing this that I’ve seen made that transition look so seamless as he did at the Senior Bowl. So I think the sky’s the limit, I think there’s definitely things he can improve upon, but the good news is his character and intangibles are top notch. So once he gets through baggage claim, I have no doubt that he’ll make a strong contribution, whether it’s starting on special teams and playing in some type of role on our defense.”