Malcolm Rodriguez has made a good impression from the start, and he seems set to actually win a starting job in the Lions’ linebacking corps during training camp.
If he was a little bigger, Malcolm Rodriguez would have surely been no worse than a Day 2 pick in April’s draft. But size concerns led to him falling to the sixth round, where the Detroit Lions were happy to stop his fall as they looked to add talent to their linebacker group.
The idea Rodriguez could earn a starting job right away as a rookie is not a totally fresh one. He made a strong impression during rookie minicamp and OTAs, and nothing should be promised to anyone in the Lions’ linebacking corps.
Thus far in training camp, Alex Anzalone and Chris Board have operated as the top two linebackers for the Lions, with everyone else mixing in behind them.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell has consistently professed the competition that is and will be taking place at linebacker. The door is open to anyone to push for a prominent role.
Malcolm Rodriguez looks ready to climb the depth chart
Before Tuesday’s training camp practice, Campbell praised Rodriguez.
"I would say this, he (Rodriguez) showed up (Monday),” Campbell said. “We’ve been pretty pleased with him and all of a sudden we go first day of pads and guess who shows up? Which, he’s one of those guys which is inevitable.”Rodriguez, I tell you what his key and diagnose, for a young guy, is pretty good,” “As you see the competition in that room and you just watch, ‘Okay, here he is, let’s just give him a rep.’ And (linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard) has done a good job with that. There’s already conversation, let’s push him up to the next group and give him some more reps and see where that goes."
Here’s a clip from Rodriguez during Monday’s practice, as a great example of his ability to not only diagnose, but go make the play.
Rodriguez has to navigate a deep linebacker depth chart for the Lions, and he obviously doesn’t have as much experience as the others as the competition for roles and roster spots goes on. But talent alway rises to the top.
There’s nothing to stop the rookie out of Oklahoma State from earning prominent snaps in camp, which he has already done, and then earning a starting job heading into the season.