Malcolm Rodriguez was a major find for the Detroit Lions in the 2022 NFL Draft, becoming the latest draft pick by the team since 1987 to win a starting job out of camp. He also delivered, with 87 total tackles in 15 games as a rookie.
But with the drafting of Jack Campbell in the first round of this year's draft, and Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes playing as well as they have, Rodriguez has been pushed into a smaller role. He did not play a single defensive snap in Week 5 of Week 6, and he played a total of 57 defensive snaps while playing at least 16 special teams snaps in each of the first six games.
Rodriguez has become one of the Lions' best special teams players, while awaiting an opportunity.
A unique opportunity came on Sunday against the Ravens.
Malcolm Rodriguez fully embraced new role vs. Ravens on Sunday
When the Lions took the field for their first offensive snap on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, with Jahmyr Gibbs of course as the running back...wait, is that Rodriguez lined up at fullback? Indeed it was, and he had another snap at fullback later in the game.
Rodriguez played quarterback in high school. So he's broadly not a stranger to playing offense, even though he has not played offense since then after making the transition to linebacker at Oklahoma State. After the game, via Kyle Meinke of MLive, he expressed a sentiment you might expect from someone who plays for Dan Campbell.
"It felt good to hit somebody,” Rodriguez said. “I haven’t played offense since high school, but I’ll do whatever I can to help the team.”
Rodriguez played one defensive snap against the Ravens, and 12 special teams snaps. But it's the two snaps at fullback that were more notable, and memorable. And it may not be the only time we see it over the rest of the season.