GLENDALE, Ariz. — While the physical talent is a known quantity, the push for Haason Reddick to succeed must come from within. A combination of talent, knowledge, acumen, desire and all the other tangibles and intangibles that make up an NFL player tend to be byproducts of the journey.
The capacity to succeed and aptitude for success, many believe, lay between the ears. If that is the criteria for personal conquest in the NFL, then Camden, New Jersey, native Reddick, selected by the Arizona Cardinals with their first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2017 draft, is clearly on the right path.
Here in the beginning of training camp, Reddick transitions to the NFL with a quiet confidence. He projects an image that embodies the essence of combining physical conditioning with his value to the Cardinals. While Reddick recognizes the task ahead, he also shifts to the future with a clear vision.
“I think I can be great,” he said Friday before practice at the University of Phoenix Stadium. “I always believed in myself. As soon as I learn, I mean really learn, what I’m supposed to do, that’s when I’ll let loose and let my talent take over. Then, I’ll be able to be great.”
As Reddick begins his introduction to the NFL, the projection and forecast for this hybrid player seem off the charts. With the speed of a defensive back, the mobility of a linebacker and the physical nature of a defensive lineman, Reddick could be the prototype of the future. Listed at 6-1 and 235 pounds, the physical tools are clearly in place. Now, comes the education.
Amid great appraisal and assessment, Reddick now descends on the NFL level. From a walk-on at Temple, to All-American stature and a first-round selection, his physical tools represent the height of his talent. When Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said Reddick possesses “unbelievable talent and speed,” the accolades, like a geyser, pour from this core.
For now, Reddick is penciled in at the hybrid spot, a position known in the Cardinals’ defense as “the dollar linebacker.” That’s currently held by Deone Bucannon, who's recovering from ankle surgery this past May and is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Listed as a linebacker on the Cardinals' depth chart, Reddick continues to prepare for a myriad of roles. At the center, Arians identities the South Jersey native as “a pure pass rusher.”
With his talents clearly in place, the processing of information now begins for Reddick.
“He needs to be a sponge and make sure his sponge is never filled,” said veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby, who is entering his 14th NFL season. “His talent is off the chart. It’s about how he uses that talent and how he prepares.”
For now, Larry Foote, the Cardinals' linebacker coach, and Dansby are the two most prominent figures on Reddick’s radar screen. Hugging his playbook before bed each night and reviewing pages the next morning, Reddick said the introduction to the NFL can be overwhelming. Clearly, preparation for the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and all others this fall is a far change from a year ago. That’s when Reddick and the Owls began preparation for Army, Central Florida and Memphis.
Now, Reddick has traded cherry and white for cardinal red and, as his NFL career nears its advent, he is prepared to move forward.
“The transition is about stepping up and maximizing my full potential,” he said. “It’s about coming in and making an impact wherever I’m needed. There’s an understanding about that now. I’m in the NFL, and going against way better competition. Guys have been doing this for a living, and now are really serious.”