With the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected Temple linebacker Haason Reddick. Besides his passionate showing on the field, (recording 10.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss in his last season of college), he also has a inspirational story that must be told.
In an interview with Jim Rome, Haason Reddick stated, “I didn’t know that you could go to college and walk on. I thought you needed a scholarship to be able to play on the team. So at first, I thought my football career was done.” Reddick said.
At Temple, Reddick walked on as a freshman with no scholarship, showing that he has determination and that is just the type of mentality the Arizona Cardinals are looking for. After he walked on, he not only earned a scholarship, but the respect of his coaches and teammates through skill, persistence, and determination.
“He’s everything right with college football.” His former coach at Temple Matt Rhule continued, “He’s tough, he’s hard-nosed. He got his degree and played so hard for us and so well for us and helped us turn this program around.” Rhule said.
One major perk besides his game-time mentality is the fact that he can play both outside and inside linebacker. His former coach at Temple spoke of this in an interview with Vince Marotta of Arizona Sports by saying, ““He’s a guy who can play off the ball and be a weak side inside linebacker and use that 4.5 speed to cover guys out of the backfield. At the same time, I think he can be a tremendous weapon blitzing. Not many running backs are going to be able to block this kid.” Rhule commented.
It looks like the Cardinals did okay with their first round pick this year, however, only time will tell. Arizona Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said that he will not be red-shirting to start. Instead, he will play behind two Pro Bowl linebackers in Karlos Dansby and Deonne Buchannon. Reddick will be on the field in nickel formations. He will have great mentors in Dansby and Buchannon, giving the Arizona Cardinals a very bright defensive future.
Reddicks’ selection is a feel-good story as over 100,000 fans gathered at the steps of the famous Philadelphia Art Museum to watch the first round of the NFL Draft. Reddick went to Temple University in Philadelphia and a very loud cheer rose as his name was called as they witnessed the local boy make good.
Check out this video of his path to the NFL from childhood to first round pick below.
On April 18th, the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders announced they have cut nose tackle Dan Williams. The release comes two seasons after picking him up as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals. The L.A. Chargers should be interested in this development as they sorely need depth along the defensive line, particularly at nose tackle. Williams would be a solid backup to starter to Brandon Mebane and give the Chargers two legitimate veteran run stoppers in the middle of the line.
Williams is currently listed at 6’2″, 330-pounds. In Arizona, he was a cornerstone of their defense, consistently occupying two blockers and plugging running lanes. As a result, pass rushers such as Karlos Dansby, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Bertrand Berry and Daryl Washington feasted on quarterbacks. With the uprising of young, hungry pass rushers and linebackers on defense, having wily veterans like Mebane and Williams is just the type of anchor needed to make the defensive line unstoppable.
Bringing in Williams also finally rectifies an egregious mistake that is seven years old.
I take you back to the 2010 NFL Draft.
The San Diego Chargers had closed a 13-3 season with a humiliating loss in the divisional round to the New York Jets. All-Everything running back Ladainian Tomlinson asked for and was granted a release. Seated at the 28th spot in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Chargers sacrificed their first- and second-round picks to the Miami Dolphins to move up 16 spots and select…
Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews…(insert rim shot here)….
The heir apparent to Tomlinson, like a bottle rocket, had a few flashes…and fizzled out. In five seasons, he had 24 touchdowns and 15 fumbles lost. Mathews missed 25% of the teams’ regular season games with injuries (20 out of 80). Mathews has logged a full 16-game season only once in his career (2013). That includes his current stint in Philadelphia.
And the injuries….soooo many injuries. Hamstring. Quadriceps. Groin. Thumb. Both collarbones. Concussion. Both ankles. And on and on and on….
Back to the 2010 NFL Draft. With the 26th pick in the draft the Arizona Cardinals selected Dan Williams and he became their keystone nose tackle. Aside from a broken arm in 2011 in which he missed the last six games he has only missed four games his entire career. Williams hasn’t missed a game in the last three seasons. The only reason he’s a free agent now is because of his salary cap number. Cutting Williams took $4.5-million off the Raiders’ ledger.
Perhaps the Chargers thought Mathews was the only worthy replacement in the draft. Jahvid Best, Dexter McCluster and Ben Tate were all selected after the Chargers’ original draft slot. Brain Westbrook, Thomas Jones, Willie Parker, Jamal Lewis and Pierre Thomas were all available in free agency.
What other names were missed in the first round? There was Safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick. DE Jason Pierre-Paul (15), G Mike Iupati (17), C Maurkice Pouncey (18), WR’s Demaryius Thomas (22), Dez Bryant (24) and CB Devin McCourty (28).
As far as that second round pick goes, that was the year Rob Gronkowski was drafted. What’s Gronkowski up to these days? Dude has so much game he’s bodychecking pro wrestlers at Wrestlemania and cutting in on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during an official press conference!
And that’s only this month…
Take a moment and envision a two-tight end set of Antonio Gates and Gronk! The Chargers wouldn’t have needed wide receivers and Philip Rivers would’ve been smashing passing records. DT Linval Joseph (46), LB Daryl Washington (47), DE Carlos Dunlap (54), LB Sean Lee (55) and WR Golden Tate (60) all heard their names called that round.
As much as that day in 2010 will live in infamy for me and many other Chargers fans, bringing Williams into the fold will add some salve to the wound. It makes sense and there’s history there. While Williams was in Arizona his head coach was current Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Don’t be surprised if a visit isn’t already in the works.
Moral of the story is do your homework. Stick to your board. Don’t let one great year of college football eclipse a checkered injury history coming into the draft. In short…
Don’t Mathews it up!
The Greg One
We know the Chargers have limited money available to spend on any remaining free agents, but let’s assume the price for Karlos Dansby is right. Defense is the strength of this team right now. The core players in place should make this defense a top 10 unit in 2013. So instead of adding another right tackle to replace Clary, let’s make that defense even better.
Sure Karlos Dansby is 31, but the Chargers signed Randall Godfrey when he was 31 and he brought consistent play and a veteran presence to a team of young players.
Let’s look at the numbers for Dansby. Last year he was thhe 13th best inside linebacker in all of football, according to Pro Football Focus. That was 3 spots ahead of Donald Butler. Dansby is solid against the run and very good in coverage. In coverage, he was targeted 70 times (4th most of any ILB) while the 68.5 completion percentage was 9th best and his 6 passes defensed led the league.
I’m not saying Dansby is the best player to sign, but given his veteran presence and ability to perform well would compliment this defense very well.