Temple Football: Haason Reddick is a Really Athletic Conundrum

Nov 21, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls defensive lineman Haason Reddick (58) dives to make a tackle on Memphis Tigers wide receiver Jae'lon Oglesby (19) during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls defensive lineman Haason Reddick (58) dives to make a tackle on Memphis Tigers wide receiver Jae'lon Oglesby (19) during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Haason Reddick had an impressive weak of Senior Bowl practices. How does the Temple Owls prospect project to the next level?

Haason Reddick, DE for the Temple Owls, had a breakout season this year with 21.5 tackles for loss, best in the country. His dominant performance earned him an invite to the Senior Bowl, where he blew away the competition with his athleticism and versatility.

For Temple fans, this could not come as less of a surprise. Here’s the blurb we had on Reddick in our Top 100 Big Board earlier this month:

"Haason Reddick projects better as a 3-4 OLB in an NFL defense, but has the twitch and athleticism necessary to put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer as a wide-9 DE that doesn’t have to take OTs head-on in the run game. The Eagles could try him as a situational pass-rusher and as an OLB Mychal Kendricks replacement, should the underachieving defender part ways with the team in the upcoming years. Camden N.J. to Temple, too–home-grown."

Reddick demonstrated this week at Mobile the ability to play as more than just a pass-rush specialist. What makes Reddick such a chess piece, and where is he most likely to find success at the next level? Let’s turn to the tape.


Reddick’s athleticism is straight silliness. A converted defensive back to defensive end (that, by the way, is also straight silliness), Reddick has flexibility in his hips and his ankles that most EDGE defenders only dream of having. On this play, Reddick stops his designed pass rush and drops into coverage when he recognizes the RB leaking out into the flat. Watch the way he changes direction, flipping his hips back and forth. When the linebackers run the coverage drill during the Combine, these are the traits for which the coaches are watching. Coverage ability like this, from a 6’1, 237 lb ‘backer, boosts Reddick’s draft stock tremendously.

In the run game, Reddick regularly penetrates with success and disrupts plays in the backfield. Many read-option or spread style running attacks call for an unblocked backside defender–when that defender is Reddick, he consistently makes tackles in pursuit with outstanding speed.

In this play, the pulling guard and tight end are meant to seal off Reddick, after the RT leaves to attack the second level. Look at the lateral agility and fluid explosiveness with which he dodges the oncoming blockers. Reddick’s best run defense comes from these sort of plays: he has a clear line of penetration, takes it, and affects the ball-carriers path. Would love to see him make the tackle here, however. Reddick isn’t the greatest tackler in space.

When a blocker can get a pad on him, Reddick often struggles, but his explosiveness allows him to still impact the backfield. On this play, Reddick flies off the ball (he anticipates the snap pretty well) and immediately gets leverage against the down block coming from the TE. He gets into the backfield so quickly, the pulling OT has to widen his path, and it gives Reddick’s fellow defenders time to swarm.

I tweeted that movement off the line in slo-mo, so you can really see the explosion:


As a pass-rusher, Reddick is a tale of great potential. Most of his sacks/pressures come from instances where he just ‘kept clean’ and waited for a rushing lane. Very often, Reddick doesn’t engage the OT (who has no idea what his QB is doing), waits until the QB has to move in the pocket in response to other pressure, and then outraces the OT to the QB. (This, by the way, makes him an ideal QB spy)

Jon Ledyard of Inside the Pylon created, and wrote at length about, a great metric called Contextualizing Sack Production (CSP), where he categorizes the quality of sacks based off of the work that went into them. Reddick’s sacks would mostly fall in the lowest category, of “Coverage/Cleanup Sacks”. That’s not to reduce Reddick’s skills–it takes vision, athleticism, and quickness to do what he does–but you can’t draft him and expect him to consistently battle an opposing team’s premier offensive tackle.

Reddick’s best, or highest-quality sacks, come when he beats the OT off the line and gets excellent bend on the edge. While he flashes pass-rush moves, they’re usually only moderately successful. He’s generally just faster and more flexible than the other guy.

To be honest, the OT might be able to just run Reddick behind the QB if he wasn’t popped by his own RB. Regardless, you can see how quickly Reddick gets off the ball, outside of the OT’s shoulder, and flattens to the QB. If he can develop a good swat (he consistently gets half-manned on the boundary), his quality of sack–and sack totals–will increase dramatically.


Remember how Reddick converted from safety to edge defender? Yeah, he has the athleticism to rock it, but his mental game never caught up. The most important thing a linebacker–and almost any defender, arguably–can have is recognition. The ability to read and react to the movement of the offense allows athletes like Reddick to make the incredible plays they make. You hear all the time about the quickness of NFL LBs like Luke Keuchly and Sean Lee. A lot of that play speed comes from diagnostic speed. The best linebackers have both physical and diagnostic speed.

Reddick does not have diagnostic speed.

Reddick’s job is to recognize the mesh point of a midline read-option, hold the edge to force the QB to keep the ball, ensure that the RB hasn’t received the handoff, and then close on the QB. This play actually ends up an RPO (run-pass option), but his read remains the same. You can see, however, how long it takes Reddick to go through those keys. He’s got the recovery athleticism to pick up the slack of his mental game, but–you’ve heard it before–the speed of the NFL game is always what surprises rookies. I’m worried, if Reddick must read keys as an NFL OLB, he’ll regularly get lost in the sauce.

If and when Reddick reads the play correctly, however, he often lacks the functional strength to make it. Either as a DE, who needs to hold his ground against OTs and contain edge-seeking running backs, or as a true off-the-ball OLB, who needs to stack-and-shed against second-level lineman, Reddick gets bullied when he gets blocked. His good plays come almost exclusively when he stays pretty clean.

I mean, the OT simply removes him from this play. Not for lack of effort/form–a high-motor player, you can see him get his hands above his eyes and roll his hips. He just can’t drive this offensive lineman back.

When rushing the passer instead of setting an edge, we see the same thing. Reddick, as mentioned, almost always wins as a twitched-up athlete. He flashes pass-rush moves, but lacks schooled hand usage or any form of a counter. And finally, he can’t convert speed-to-power, a critical skill for a speed-oriented pass rusher. I wonder what he’ll bench at the Combine. I expect an underwhelming number.

Rarely, with Temple, did Reddick line up as an off-the-ball linebacker, expected to diagnose the play, sift through traffic, and fill the gap or make the tackle. As such, there’s very little tape by which a scout could evaluate his production in such a position.

However, given the traits demonstrated on the tape, I really worry about Reddick’s ability to take on, then disengage from blockers. This weakness, in tandem with his poor recognition, really gives me hesitation about Reddick, off the ball, in the run game. Tomorrow’s Senior Bowl will hopefully give us a bit more insight, but I’d temper expectations. I think we’ll see a whole lotta this:

Reddick absolutely must step forward and take this blocker head on, to shut down the running lane. Whether because he diagnoses the play too late, or because he doubts his ability to create any push against the bigger offensive lineman, Reddick dives for a futile, shoestring tackle. Touchdown.


Reddick’s a freak athlete with elite speed, flexibility, and short-area quickness. To have his primary role be anything but rushing off the edge would be a crime. However, Reddick lacks the frame and strength to consistently set an edge in the run game. As an off-the-ball linebacker, Reddick’s read-and-react and stack-and-shed abilities would be liabilities on running downs, while his coverage abilities could shut down match-up nightmares like stretch TEs and pass-catching backs.

He’s a conundrum.

I think Reddick fits best as a Jack in a 3-4 defense. The most nebulous of positions, which varies among different coaches’ 3-4 schemes, the Jack does a whole lot. it’s almost as if the Jack does all of the trades (woah). Reddick would be asked to rush the passer and drop in coverage quite often, and would mostly be responsible as a pursuit defender in the run game, where he excels.

Next: Temple Owls Basketball | A Look Ahead

Haason Reddick has a grade of 6.2 from me, but I have him ranked as one of my highest ceiling prospects. His grade dictates a third-round selection. I expect him to go in the late-second/early-third.

Games Watched:

2016: vs. Cincinnati; vs. Memphis

2015: vs. Notre Dame