When the Arizona Cardinals called Haason Reddick’s name with the 13th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cardinals and General Manager Steve Keim claimed to get one of the top five talents on their board.
After Sunday’s blowout loss to the Washington Redskins, where Reddick, now in his second year, played 14 defensive snaps, the question could be, what board was being used?
After a rookie year that was maligned by position moves, the Cardinals and their athletic linebacker seemed to be in lockstep with the next wave of Reddick’s career. Instead of having him learn linebacker, then move to outside linebacker, due to Markus Golden’s injury, the Cardinals would allow Reddick to learn the ins and outs of the strong side linebacker position in Steve Wilks and Al Holcomb’s 4-3 defense.
On Sunday, Reddick was in when the Cardinals were in base 4-3, but the Cardinals spent much of their time in their 4-2-5 nickel defense with Tre Boston and Budda Baker rotating up near the box as a pseudo linebacker.
Reddick’s positives coming out of Temple were his athleticism and versatility, and ability to lineup anywhere and compete with his size/speed profile.
Through 17 games of his career, we have yet to see.
The Cardinals went with Deone Bucannon and Josh Bynes manning the linebacker positions, and according to Pro Football Focus, their results were on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Bynes was graded as the best defender for the Cardinals on Sunday, while Bucannon was one of the worst:
It was a day for Deone Bucannon to forget. Besides not being able to get off blocks in the run game, he frequently got shook by Redskins receivers and backs in underneath zones in the passing game.
While Reddick is young and learning another new position in the NFL, after playing two different positions in college and then transitioning to off-ball linebacker at the Senior Bowl, the Cardinals need Reddick to come out of his shell. The defensive scheme they want to run depends on having linebackers who are equally adept against the run as the pass. Right now, the Cardinals don’t have that and we saw the results in game one.