DETROIT (BVM) – Rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez stole the show during the second episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which has followed around the Detroit Lions during the team’s training camp and preseason action.
The sixth–round pick selected in the 2022 NFL Draft has turned heads throughout the early portion of the team’s training camp and early preparation, earning him the nickname “Rodrigo,” which defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn was happy to take credit for.
— Chris DiMaria (@chris_DiMaria) August 12, 2022
The former Oklahoma State standout was quick to get acknowledgement from the whole coaching staff during the team’s practice period as linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard praised the rookie for his play. Rodriguez would go on to secure two tackles during the team’s first preseason matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
“I had a coach who’s been in this building for five (expletive) years tell me he hasn’t seen a linebacker [Rodriguez] make that type of play since he’s been here,” Sheppard told the Detroit linebackers during the position group’s meeting. “Y’all need to know this type of (expletive). This (expletive) doesn’t need to be a secret. A coach who has been in this building for five years said he hasn’t seen a stack linebacker make this type of play.”
At Oklahoma State, the “super” senior earned first-team All-America honors from ESPN during the 2021 campaign and was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, which recognizes the top linebacker in the country. In his final season with the Cowboys, Rodriguez totaled 129 tackles and 15 tackles for loss as the program enjoyed a 12-2 season. During the team’s Fiesta Bowl matchup against Notre Dame, Rodriguez dominated, securing 11 tackles, an interception and two pass breakups, which led to the game’s defensive MVP honors.
The linebacker position has been one of the team’s most open competitions early on as returning players like Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes aim to land starting spots. With Rodriguez’s early hype, the “Hard Knocks” standout has played himself into contention. Look for him to continue to be the focal point of the HBO series as the preseason rages on.