Rising Lions Rookie Quickly Earns New Title of ‘Draft Day Steal’

Malcolm Rodriguez

Getty Malcolm Rodriguez celebrates a play for Oklahoma State in 2020.

The Detroit Lions may not have made many headlines when they picked linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez back in April, but the youngster has wasted no time turning heads.

Rodriguez has wowed folks in camp enough that he has earned more snaps, and was even promoted to a starter ahead of Week 2 of the preseason. Steadily, he’s seen his role boosted in camp to the point where he is being thought of as more than just a special teamer.

Not only have the Hard Knocks cameras and fans taken notice, but the media has as well. From unknown to now on the radar as one of the more impressive young players in his draft class, Rodriguez has become a revelation.

Bleacher Report is already handing out a lofty designation. Writer Brent Sobleski put together a list of 10 rookies who are already looking like steals ahead of the 2022 season, and Rodriguez made the cut.

Sobleski pointed out that while Rodriguez has limitations, he also offers major positives for the team and is helping the depth of the roster already.

“Yes, Rodriguez is a sawed-off linebacker who lacks length and can be engulfed at the point of attack. But he consistently works to be in the right position and make plays. Rodriguez’s emergence as a potential starter helped ease the decision by the Lions to cut former first-round pick Jarrad Davis,” he wrote.

Davis was cut from the roster but re-joined the practice squad. The good news for the Lions is they have big faith in Rodriguez to make a move like that, as Sobleski pointed out.

Will it lead to Rodriguez being a steal in the end? Possibly, and the chance is there for Rodriguez to step up and play a big role immediately.

Rodriguez Hero With Lions Fans

For weeks, Rodriguez has been getting hyped for his energy and ability throughout the offseason, but until now, it’s possible many Lions fans didn’t get a chance to see it on full display.

Now that everyone has seen what he can do as well as watched him dance and entertain on Hard Knocks, fans have gravitated toward the man affectionately known as “Rodrigo” in a big way. That hasn’t changed who he is or what he is about, however, which he explained after the first preseason game on Friday, August 12.

“I don’t really check on social media. I just stay around my family so it’s a lot of love. I mean my family always says they see the hate and the love and all that (online) but I just stay to the positive side so I just think on the positive side,” Rodriguez said. I heard people say ‘do the salsa’ in the stands so I got a good laugh out of that. You know, (I) know love Detroit, love being here and I’m happy to be here.”

The fans are very happy to have Rodriguez, who might have a new career trajectory after making the team and looking primed for big results.

Rodriguez’s College Stats & Highlights

It’s easy to see what folks within the building are so excited about with regard to Rodriguez given what he did at Oklahoma State in college.

Rodriguez is a player who seems to work his way into big plays because he is near the ball. The college stats are wonderful for Rodriguez, given 408 tackles, 32 tackles for-loss, 7.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 11 passes defended and a whopping 13 forced fumbles. Those numbers help amplify some of his best traits.

Here’s a look at the clips:

So far, Rodriguez looks like the same tough, consistent player he was all along in college while transitioning to the NFL.

If he manages to see the field and make some plays, it might only help Rodriguez to look like more of a steal in the end.

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