Lions Rookie Defender Earns Title of ‘Best Value Pick’ of Late Rounds

Malcolm Rodriguez

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

The Detroit Lions enjoyed what the experts agree is one of the better NFL draft classes in the league in 2022, so it only stands to reason that the team would have found some elite values along the way to make that happen.

When Detroit was on the clock, the team managed to nab multiple players that can figure to play an immediate role patching holes for next year’s team, and that’s especially true on defense. One such player stands out in new linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez.

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Rodriguez was a pick that plenty of people have come to love in recent days, and the reason has everything to do with how athletic he is. While size is a primary concern, Rodriguez was a good value in the sixth round, which is just what ESPN sees after the draft.

Analysts Matt Miller and Jordan Reid broke down the entire draft in an Insider piece, and as part of that exercise, they revealed their top value picks for each round. In the sixth round, Rodriguez surfaced as Miller’s pick given what he could translate into while in the pros.

As Miller admitted, Rodriguez had combine numbers which make it seem like he could be a success. Additionally, he writes “he is experienced in coverage, has played in space plenty at Oklahoma State’s 4-2-5 scheme and has the physical traits to be an asset on special teams.”

The Lions have had a need for a playmaking linebacker for a long time, so if Rodriguez can be that guy, it would be a big bonus for the team and their future. Already, it seems as if there is at least one believer in that playing out for Detroit.

Rodriguez Brings Much-Needed Depth to Linebacker

If there was one spot in the draft where the Lions badly needed to attack, it was at linebacker. Minus Derrick Barnes, there wasn’t much young hope at the position. The team smartly re-signed a key veteran stopgap in Alex Anzalone, and brought Jarrad Davis back into the mix while signing intriguing Baltimore prospect Chris Board. In Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, the team has a pair of players who are solid edges as well as outside linebackers in the scheme. Beyond that, the spot was a bit of a hole on the roster. Enter Rodriguez.

While nobody would expect him to lock down a starting role immediately, it would also not be seen as a surprise to see a player of his character and pedigree push for immediate snaps and perhaps earn his way into the lineup while being a special teams mainstay. In year one, that’s the goal for Rodriguez, who has a big chance to earn and keep a role given the team’s depth problems at the position for 2022.

Rodriguez’s College Stats & Highlights

Watching the tape, it’s easy to see what folks are so excited about with regard to Rodriguez and why he could be a steal. He is one of those players who always seems to work his way into big plays because he is near the ball constantly. The stats are fairly insane for Rodriguez, given 408 college tackles, 32 tackles for-loss, 7.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 11 passes defended and a whopping 13 fumbles, a very high total.

Here’s a look at the clips:

Biggest Sleeper Linebacker In The Draft! II Malcolm Rodriguez HighlightsOklahoma State LB Malcolm Rodriguez 2021 Highlights Song: Tip Off – Money Man Bicho Prodz (Mine) Social Media Instagram:… Twitter: Malcolm's Instagram: @malcolm_rod_20 Thanks For Watching!2022-03-22T03:01:00Z

Safe to say Lions fans will like Rodriguez when they get to know him in a big way, and he has already made some impressive highlight reels coming into the league. That could lead to him being one of the bigger late-round steals and values in 2022.

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