Training camp is usually the deciding factor for who will or will not make the final cut. Between the 2014 NFL Draft and free agency, the New Orleans Saints added some superb talent to their roster, but let’s take a look at second-year linebacker Kevin Reddick as practice in full pads approaches.
A product of the University of North Carolina, Reddick is entering his second season with the Black and Gold. The Saints signed the former Tar Heel as an undrafted free agent in April of 2013 following the draft. Reddick played all four years at UNC and was a dominant force when on the field.
In 2009, he played in every game as a true freshman and started the final seven, racking up 45 tackles (5.5 for a loss). He lined up in the middle again for his sophomore year where he led a very talented defense at Chapel Hill with 74 tackles. He missed two games as a junior with an ankle sprain, but still managed 74 tackles (six for a loss) again.
After three years of strong play, Reddick’s role expanded as a senior. He still saw plenty of time at middle linebacker but was used more on the outside as an edge pass rusher. It was an excellent call by the coaching staff as Reddick totaled 85 tackles (18.5 for loss) and 6.5 sacks. He ended his college career with a bang, earning First Team All-ACC honors and a trip to the Senior Bowl.
The fact that he went undrafted is mind-boggling, and New Orleans may have found a steal. Following his arrival to the Crescent City, Reddick led the Saints’ special teams with 13 tackles and a forced fumble. He looks to do it again this season but may also see an extended role as relief to inside linebackers Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne. His main competition at training camp will be Ramon Humber and rookie Khairi Fortt, but Hawthorne’s position alongside Lofton is vulnerable.
Reddick is an intelligent, hard-working force who could end up seeing significant time as an inside linebacker and pass rusher. At 6-foot-1 and 246 pounds, he brings excellent size. His height may occasionally work against him, but he still manages to show good vision to the ball and outstanding flexibility.
His versatility makes him an intriguing athlete in the NFL. Reddick may be the perfect fit for Rob Ryan‘s hybrid 3-4 defense, so it will be interesting to see what Sean Payton and the rest of the coaching staff have in store for him during his second go at training camp.