After a trade down in the sixth round, the Detroit Lions added Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez at pick No. 188.
The Detroit Lions have seemed content to not add notably to their linebacking corps this offseason, right into Day 3 of the draft. But after trading down from pick No. 181 in the sixth round, and adding a seventh-round pick from the Eagles (pick No. 237) they drafted Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez at pick No. 188.
Rodriguez is undersized (5-foot-11, 232 pounds), but he was highly productive at Oklahoma State. He topped 100 tackles in two of his last three seasons (103 in 2019, a Big-12 high 129 with 16 tackles for loss in 2021), earning All-Big 12 honors in all three campaigns. Over his last two seasons, he totaled six sacks and 11 forced fumbles.
Rodriguez ran a 4.52 40 at the NFL Combine, with a 39.5-inch vertical. As a former high school quarterback, that athleticism isn’t a surprise.
Malcolm Rodriguez should have little trouble making the Lions roster
Among the eight linebackers the Lions have under contract currently, five (Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Chris Board, Jarrad Davis and Josh Woods) could be considered to have better than a coin-flip chance to make the 53-man roster. And that might be stretching it in regard to Davis, Woods and to a lesser degree Board.
Regardless of how many linebackers are kept, Rodriguez has a clear opportunity in front of him to earn a roster spot. Worst case, he lands on the practice squad. In terms of roles and pecking order (starting jobs, etc.), no one should be promised anything in the Lions’ linebacking corps.
Rodriguez fell to Day 3 because of his lack of ideal size and length. But there have been plenty of linebackers who’ve made it despite those perceived limitations, and his tendency to always be around the ball (and make things happen) is a trait that can’t be taught.