Detroit Lions fans really wanted a linebacker in the 2022 NFL Draft. They talked about it all offseason and pretty much everyone included a linebacker for the Lions in their seven-round mock drafts. I know I did. The Lions passed on some of the higher profile guys, and on Day 3, the Lions finally picked Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez.
There’s a lot to like about Rodriguez. He’s got a ton of athleticism, poinsting a 9.48 RAS. He picked up elite grades in the 40-yard dash (4.52), shuttle (4.13) and three-cone (7.02).
He’s likely going to have to work his way up the chain when he gets to Detroit, though. There's a reason the Lions didn’t take a linebacker earlier, it’s because they probably like the group they currently have and didn’t feel they needed to make big changes this offseason. So it’s more than likely that Rodriguez will have to pay his dues as part of the Lions special teams unit.
We wanted to know more about Rodriguez so we reached out to the gang that spends their time covering Oklahoma State for SB Nation: the gang at Cowboys Ride For Free. Cowboys expert Ian Nikkel was happy to answer a few questions for us. Here’s what he had to say:
What are your overall thoughts on Rodriquez’ time at OK State?
“Malcolm Rodriguez was the anchor of the Cowboys defense this last year. You couldn’t talk about the Cowboys defense without Malcolm this year. He was all over the field this past year making plays.”
What are his strengths?
“His strengths are his tackling abilities. He had 123 total tackles this season and had 14 tackles for loss. Because he was a state champion wrestler during his high school days. He hits hard and goes at it 100% always. He’s also been one of the captains of the team for the last two seasons.”
What are his weaknesses?
“His big weakness is something he can’t change, his height. At 5-foot-11 Rodriguez is a lot smaller compared to the freaks of nature coming out of the draft like Quay Walker from Georgia. Another minor one is that while he can get QB hurries, he doesn’t get a ton of sacks.”
Is Rodriguez a project? Or is he a diamond in the rough that’s ready to go?
“With Malcolm being a fifth-year senior this past year, a lot of the time it was like a man playing amongst boys. He should be able to adapt to the NFL quickly.”
Did the Lions find a steal?
“I would like to think so. I believe he was projected anywhere from late fourth to a fifth-round pick. So getting Malcolm in the sixth round is good value. I think he’ll fit Detroit very well. I think he and Dan Campbell have that same mentality of being a hard worker, showing grit, and just flat out loving the game of football. So I think he could potentially be a fan favorite in Detroit.”