The Detroit Lions have selected linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez with the 188th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Many people expected the Lions to target a linebacker early, but the Lions waited until the middle of Day 3 to pick their guy. Did they make a good choice?
My grade: A-
The Malcolm Rodriguez selection is perfect example of the difference between Aaron Glenn and Matt Patricia. Patricia preferred bigger, run-stopping linebackers, often at the cost of speed. Jahlani Tavai had the size Patricia liked, but he was a liability in coverage due to his athleticism. Glenn, meanwhile, has shown that speed is a priority. Derrick Barnes, Alex Anzalone, and Chris Board are all above-average in that regard.
Rodriguez might be in contention for the fastest linebacker on the team. He boasts an elite athletic profile, posting phenomenal splits and agility drills. Given the growing need for coverage linebackers in the NFL, Rodriguez’s athleticism could be a serious asset:
Minor update, just that he also put up the best bench of a LB ever.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 30, 2022
Malcolm Rodriguez was drafted with pick 188 of round 6 in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.47 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 128 out of 2419 LB from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/u2V4pIhCdf #RAS #Lions pic.twitter.com/o1rDCtpuTN
The biggest knock on Rodriguez is his size. While his weight is just below average, he comes in below six feet tall, notably small for a linebacker. Coupled with his short arms, length could be an issue. He is almost built like a safety, so perhaps the Lions will experiment with him—does he have shades of Miles Killebrew?
If Rodriguez can overcome his size concerns, he could pair nicely with Derrick Barnes. Despite his size, he was a productive run-stopper in college, although that doesn’t always translate well to the NFL. Malcolm is well-regarded as a leader in the locker room, being named a two-time team captain at Oklahoma State. At the very least, he could be an excellent contributor on special teams.
Looking at the available prospects, Rodriguez was among the best. His teammate Devin Harper went a few picks later to the Dallas Cowboys, but Rodriguez was a higher-regarded prospect. JoJo Domann was higher than Rodriguez on some draft boards, but Domann is almost 25 years old. Rodriguez is younger (turned 23 in March), so perhaps that pushed him up the Lions’ draft board.
When you’re drafting on Day 3, traits are of utmost importance, and Malcolm ticks many of those boxes. Rodriguez could have gone a round earlier, so not only are the Lions getting a good player, but they’re getting good value as well. You can’t ask for more than that.
Grade the selection of Malcolm Rodriguez
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