The Arizona Cardinals have drafted a speed rusher from the edge. It's something they haven't really had. The player is Shaq Riddick, the first of two consecutive fifth round picks the Cardinals had on Saturday. He is an interesting prospect,
He played defensive end in college -- three years at FCS school Gardner-Webb and then one season at West Virginia. But playing defensive end is not his natural position.
The Cardinals will use him "as an outside linebacker on the rush side," which is "perfect" for him.
"I just feel like (at) outside linebacker I'll be more of a bully compared to where I was with my hand in the ground," he told local media on a conference call, noting he was able to hold his own going up against double teams on the defensive line. "When it comes to me standing up on the edge at Arizona, I'm going to be able to manhandle whoever i want to manhandle out there."
Listed originally at 6-6, 245 pounds, he was smaller than the type of player the Cardinals usually use at outside linebacker. But Riddick has gained weight since his Pro Day, where he weighed in at 245. He now is at 260 pounds. It wasn't something he tried to do. "It kind of happened on its own," he explained. "It's making me be an every-down guy, not just a situational pass rusher."
There is reason to believe he can develop and produce, based on his overachieving history.
He had and associate's degree when he graduated from high school, putting him about 70 credits ahead of everyone. That allowed him to graduate from Gardner-Webb in just three years and transfer to West Virginia in the Big 12 without having sit out a year.
"After my junior year I was first-team All-American on eight different All-American lists, CFPA Defensive End of the Year, finished fifth in the Buchanon (Award) poll, so I pretty much dominated FCS ball my junior year," he told reporters after being asked about the reason for his transfer. He moved up to the FBS to play against better competition. In one season in the Big 12, he racked up seven sacks, 11 tackles for losses and a total of 27 tackles.
He describes his pursuit of the quarterback as "relentless."
"I might not always get there on my first move or my second move, but I'm going to find my way to the ball," he said.
What do you think we can expect from Riddick, even in Year 1? Will he continue to be ahead of the curve and produce early?