The Arizona Cardinals used the 13th-overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft on Temple’s Haason Reddick in hopes that he would take their defense to new heights. The pick was praised by many draft gurus at the time, with Sports Illustrated handing out an A- grade on the selection. In fact, the coach that selected him, Bruce Arians, even compared Reddick to eight-time Pro Bowler Von Miller.
Yet, three years into his pro career, it’s safe to say that Reddick has not lived up to those lofty expectations. The Cardinals opted to not pick up the linebacker’s 5th-year option earlier this month, and according to The Athletic’s Michael Lombardi, he is a player that Arizona “would gladly move on from.”
The question is, who would make a move for an underperforming, undersized defender, who has essentially entered position-limbo in the NFL? How about a New York Giants team who was once head over heels with Reddick coming out of college a few years back and is currently in desperate need of talent in the pass-rushing department?
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1st-Round Talent at a Fraction of the Price
The Giants need help on the edge of their defense. Markus Golden is not guaranteed to return to New York next season. Leonard Williams is not a dominant pass-rusher, no matter what the Pro Football Focus stats might say, and the Giants’ two projected starting edge defenders for 2020 combined for a whopping 5.5 sacks a season ago.
Enter, Haason Reddick.
The Giants owned the 23rd-pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the belief is that had Reddick fallen to them, New York would have very possibly pulled the trigger on the Temple product. By most reports heading into that year’s draft, New York scouted Reddick thoroughly during his Pro Day. He was also a favorite to land with the G-Men amongst numerous draft experts, including NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.
Obviously, the potential marriage never occurred. However, now four years later, the Giants can make it happen at a fraction of the price.
It’s become extremely evident that Reddick’s tenure in Arizona is on its last leg. He lost his starting job last season, has accumulated just 7.5 sacks during his three years with the team, and he’s been mentioned in trade talks since the deadline last season.
New York will be stripped of either a 4th or 5th-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, based on what happens with Leonard Williams’ contract. However, one of, or multiple picks between round-4 and round-7 should be more than enough to pry away the former 1st-rounder from Arizona.
That type of collateral pales into comparison to the type of player Reddick could become for New York. On essentially a one-year make-it or break-it deal, New York would be playing with house money.
Return to His Roots
Coming out of Temple, the Camden, New Jersey native was a highly productive edge defender, culminating in a 9.5 sack, 22.5 tackles for loss senior campaign. However, despite Reddick’s dominant numbers, teams did what they normally do during the draft season, they overthought things. Teams grew wary of Reddick’s size, standing at just 6-foot-1-inches and weighing in a smidge below 240 pounds.
The concerns led many scouts to believe that Reddick would be best served to move to an inside linebacker position at the next level. He gave it a shot during Senior Bowl week, and by most accounts passed the test with flying colors.
However, the transition has not gone as well in the pros. Reddick played nearly half the 2019 season at inside linebacker before the Cardinals coaching staff decided they had seen enough. The team eventually replaced Reddick with former 7th-round pick Joe Walker and opted to transition Reddick back to the outside. When asked about the decision to bench their ex-1st-rounder, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph acknowledged, “we tried it,” but that in the end “it did not work.”
However, what could work is Reddick wreaking havoc at the position he’s most equipped to play, the edge defender. Despite limitations in size, Reddick is a menace off the edge, and that is where he will continue to be the most productive. For example, a month and a half into the 2018 season, Reddick led all linebackers with a Pro Football Focus pass-rush grade of 90.5.
A return to his college position and his old stomping grounds in New Jersey could help rejuvenate Reddick’s once-promising career, and in return give Big Blue the edge defender they’ve been in search of.
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