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Player Spotlight: LB Haason Reddick

A detailed look at the fantasy prospects for 2017 and beyond for Arizona's first round pick Haason Reddick. 

Positives

  • Demonstrated the ability to affect both the run and pass game at Temple, racking up 17.5 career sacks with 9.5 of them coming in his senior campaign
  • A ferocious pass rusher with closing speed and burst to round up ball carriers and quarterbacks
  • Shows a consistent ability to fire off the snap and can chase down the ball even when the angle appears difficult

Negatives

 

  • He will face a steep learning curve adjusting from a predominantly pass-rushing role of outside linebacker to taking on blockers inside at the pro level
  • Beyond the physical toughness side of the game, his ability to grasp the complex passing game concepts – and how to combat them at inside linebacker – will be relentlessly tested by opposing offensive coordinators
  • The signing of Karlos Dansby, combined with the presence of Deone Bucannon, may make any decision to bench Reddick easier for the coaches

 

The Cardinal Rule

Arizona’s general manager Steve Keim, ably assisted by the laser-focused approach of Bruce Arians, has developed a reputation around the league. Eschewing the typical model of fitting the player to the existing scheme, Keim has instead opted for talented players – and has allowed his coaches the freedom to fit the scheme around them. Selected with the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft, the expectation is that Haason Reddick will be next in line. The lack of depth at inside linebacker really hurt this team last season: rather than try to plug a hole, however, they attacked it aggressively with a player who should be a fixture for years. Clarity is in this franchise’s DNA.

Quarterback’s Nightmare?

It doesn’t take an expert to decipher the fact that the NFL is all about protecting the passer – and getting to the passer. Reddick excels at the latter, and he made offensive linemen in college look silly at times with his ability to explode off the ball and wreak havoc before anyone knew what was happening. One of Reddick’s blind spots – and something he will need to work on – is his tackling. Over the past two seasons in Temple, he has missed 28 of 150 attempts. Coaches will be eager to put Reddick in position to make an impact in the passing game first, followed by everything else. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher will conjure up blitzes to isolate Reddick against weaker blockers. He could soon become a quarterback’s worst nightmare, even solely in a situational role.

The Chronicles of Reddick

There is no doubt that Reddick is the next iteration of the type of player the NFL now craves at inside linebacker: a lighter, faster athlete capable of affecting the game all over the field. The presence of veteran Karlos Dansby may initially keep Reddick on the bench in some packages, but the Cardinals clearly have a plan for Reddick to be a key part of their defensive system for the foreseeable future. He will be given every opportunity to impress the coaching staff and allay some of the fears about his game. The injury to Bucannon has been a blessing in disguise for Reddick, who has impressed his coach, who said: “It’s classic Wally Pipp. He’s getting every single rep, and he looks damn good.” All the right noises are coming from out West; it is up to Reddick to deliver now.

Final thoughts

Reddick has endeared himself to his coaching staff already, with defensive coordinator Bettcher applauding his ‘tireless, relentless’ work ethic and his ability to take coaching. The chance is there for the rookie to become a mainstay of the Cardinals defense, perhaps operating as a movable chess piece much like Clay Matthews did for the Packers. In redraft formats, Reddick may disappoint some whose expectations are too lofty based on his draft status. It is a different story for patient dynasty owners, who should reap the benefits of LB1 play and numbers as soon as 2018. A new age linebacker, he is the type of player you should invest in.

2017 Projections

AARON RUDNICKI’S PROJECTIONS

G TKL AST SCK FF FR PD INT TD FPT
16 54 20 2 1 1 1 3 0 121.5

JOHN NORTON’S PROJECTIONS

G TKL AST SCK FF FR PD INT TD FPT
16 84 30 3 2 1 0 3 0 176.5

Other viewpoints

Pro Football Focus favourably compared Reddick to Cleveland’s Jamie Collins before the draft, stating:

“Like Reddick, Collins is an elite athlete capable of producing in all three phases of defense. Also like Reddick, tackling is Collins’ single biggest issue.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com calls Reddick:

“An ascending prospect with a high-end potential if he can continue to hone his craft.”