Malcolm Rodriguez was drafted in the sixth round after a strong combine. Rodriguez, the linebacker out of Oklahoma State, may lack height standing at 5’11″, but he certainly doesn’t lack strength. Rodriguez had more reps than any linebacker on bench press with 36. Rodriguez also ran a 4.52 40 yard dash at the combine, which was tied for fourth among linebackers.
Rodriguez has emerged since the start of training camp and has been the biggest surprise thus far. Rodriguez was working with the third team when camp opened up. That has changed to say the least. On Friday, due to some injuries, Rodriguez was taking first and second team reps and excelled. With some early success, Campbell said he’s already had conversations with LB coach Kelvin Sheppard about moving Rodriguez up the depth chart. Rodriguez followed that practice on Saturday working with the second team, sprinkled with some first team.
Rodriguez has mostly been taking second team reps, backing up Alex Anzalone at the MIKE. Dan Campbell was asked if Rodriguez can make up for his lack of size. He stated, “I think the big thing is he can do it, and the size is not an issue as long as everything is perfect every play.” — “There’s a number of guys in this league that have played that position and been able to do it that were undersized. So, he’s explosive and he’s fast, and he can key and diagnose, I know that. And we’re early in camp, so we’ll see what happens.” With the first pre-season game right around the corner, keep an eye out on Rodriguez. With the path he’s on, Rodriguez could see some significant time this upcoming season.