It was a moment of serendipity as just minutes before the Philadelphia Eagles made their own draft pick, Haason Reddick lived out his NFL draft dream.
Simply put, it was a moment of serendipity.
Lining up hours prior to the 8 PM start time, fans decked in midnight and kelly green, cheered wildly as the screens nearby the draft stage announced that the Arizona Cardinals’ pick was in. Of course, it wasn’t the Cardinals the fans were excited for but rather the fact that with the 13th pick being decided, it meant that the Philadelphia Eagles were next up on the clock. This was the moment that fans had eagerly awaited for ever since the announcement was made that the 2017 NFL Draft would be held in their home city. Anticipation reached its peaked as in just a few short minutes, the newest Eagle would be introduced.
But first, the fans quieted down as they had all night, to hear who Arizona’s 13th overall selection was. When the name was announced however, the cheers picked back up because Haason Reddick, linebacker from Temple University and native of nearby Camden, N.J., had just achieved his dream of making it to the NFL.
In LB Hasson Reddick the Cardinals drafted a former walk-on CB whose mom took out a loan so he could eat with the scholarship players. pic.twitter.com/U6vgJi6vci
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) April 28, 2017
For those not familiar with Reddick, his is an emotional story and journey that began at Haddon Heights high school in Camden. Reddick did not gain much national acclaim in high school as he barely played his junior and senior seasons due to injuries. There was no signing day nor were there any scholarship offers, but Reddick chose to pursue a career in football anyway, as a walk-on. With none of the perks of a scholarship athlete, Reddick faced hardships along his journey and had to work for everything he received. Nothing was given but rather earned for the walk-on, whose parents had to take out a loan just so he could have a meal plan and be able to eat with his teammates.
And while the prospect of quitting football did occur to Reddick, he persisted, even when former Temple head coach Steve Addazio told him he didn’t see a future for the then-redshirt freshman defensive end. Reddick totaled just 14 tackles and one sack his first year in limited playing time but with each year he improved on the field. By his junior season, new head coach Matt Rhule saw something in him and offered Reddick a scholarship. In Rhule’s system, he flourished, becoming a key component of the defense which helped to revitalize Temple’s program.
In his senior season, Reddick was named a first-team all-conference player in the American Athletic Conference. He recorded 10.5 sacks for a loss of 66 yards, both of which were the second best in the conference. Reddick also had 65 tackles during the season, 22.5 of which were for loss, which was the third best number in the nation. But where Reddick really shined and saw his draft stock begin to rise was at the Senior Bowl, where he outperformed just about everybody else according to Mike Mayock who is an analyst for NFL.com.
He had a really impressive week. He was a hand-in-the-dirt 4-3 defensive end with a lot of sack production at Temple, but down here they asked him to stand up and play two different positions, and every day he got better. And his attitude about the switch was terrific; I got a kick out of how he embraced it. The last two days of practice, I don’t think he lost a rep. He bounced around and made plays all week. At 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds, most see him as a tweener, but I think he showed versatility. I came into the week wondering what he would be at the next level, and at the end of the practice sessions I left thinking he could be an inside linebacker in a 3-4, an inside linebacker in a 4-3, and an occasional edge rusher. Bottom line: He showed he can do a bunch of things and do them well. He might not have to come off the field.
It is that very versatility that saw Reddick enter the week long event as a top 100 pick and leave as a potential top 20 pick. He cemented his new draft status at the NFL Combine where, according to MockDraftable, Reddick scored, among defensive ends, in the 99th percentile in the broad jump, the 98th percentile in the 40-yard dash, the 84th percentile in the vertical jump and 83rd percentile in the three-cone drill. Athletically, these are some of the more important tests for someone playing the linebacker position and Reddick passed them all with flying colors.
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Reddick’s perseverance and determination was rewarded as his NFL dream came true on Thursday nigh, making him the second highest player to be drafted out of Temple and just the fourth first round selection in the program’s history. According to Rhule, the Cardinals got a very special player and one who is,”everything that’s right with college football.”
The Philadelphia faithful, especially those in cherry and white who proudly sung the Temple fight song as Reddick received his jersey, seemed to agree.