Round 7, 256th Overall: Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State
The seventh round of the NFL Draft is a great place to take a swing or two, especially if the team has multiple picks in said round. In this scenario I have the Arizona Cardinals selecting Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez.
The first thing people will notice about him, and the reason he’s available in the seventh round of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft is his size. Rodriguez is a strong 5’11” 232 but doesn’t have a lot of length to make up for his short stature. That and his lack of elite lateral agility could limit his ceiling as an NFL player, but those shortcomings pale in comparison to his strengths.
Malcolm Rodriguez was 6th in the FBS last year in total tackles with 129, and he recorded as many tackles for loss in 2021 (16) as he did in his entire collegiate career up to that point. Rodriguez made the first team All-Big 12 in 2021and was a second team AP All-American selection last year. He was also voted a team captain for an Oklahoma State defense that was surprisingly stout, one of only 5 FBS teams to allow under 300 yards per game. In the pass-happy Big 12, that’s quite an accomplishment.
If all that wasn’t enough, Rodriguez killed it at the combine, running a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, registering 39.5 inches on the vertical leap, and 120 inches in the broad jump. Per Next Gen Stats, his athleticism score ranked 2nd out of all participating linebackers behind only Montana State’s Troy Andersen, and ahead of Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal and Georgia’s Channing Tindall.
The Arizona Cardinals don’t technically need another linebacker, but when they have a chance to draft a player with the tools and skills of Malcolm Rodriguez at a discount because of his size, they should jump at the opportunity.