Larry Foote: God touched Arizona Cardinals LB Haason Reddick with some amazing ability

May 4, 2017, 6:01 PM | Updated: May 5, 2017, 11:33 am

Temple's Haason Reddick reacts after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round...

Temple's Haason Reddick reacts after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Like most, Arizona Cardinals inside linebackers coach Larry Foote first got wind of Haason Reddick at the Senior Bowl.

“Check my boy out,” he remembers Kevin Ross telling him.

Of course Ross, who coaches the Cardinals’ cornerbacks, played at Temple, where Reddick had just happened to be coming off a dominating senior season.

Four weeks later, in preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine, Foote popped in Reddick’s game tape and started to really break down the player. The talent jumped off the screen.

“He’s just a freak athlete. God touched him with some amazing ability,” Foote told during a break from Phase Two of offseason workouts this week.

Foote added Reddick looks like Denver linebacker Von Miller “rushing off that end.”

Now, Von Miller is the same name head coach Bruce Arians mentioned the night the Cardinals drafted Reddick with the 13th overall pick. And it was the name Reddick told reporters he tried to pattern his game after.

The comparison is a strong one, yet it fits, at least on paper.

At 6-foot-1 and 235-pounds, Reddick is smaller than Miller (6-3, 246). Their combine numbers, however, match up well: Reddick was a tad faster in the 40 (4.52 vs. 4.53), covered more distance in the broad jump (133 inches vs. 126) and posted a near identical vertical leap (36.5 inches vs. 37).

“I’m not saying he is (Miller), but there’s plays that he looks like him,” said Foote, whose final four seasons playing in the NFL overlapped with Miller. “You see the burst. He definitely has the burst and speed like Von Miller. Now all the other intangibles, that’s yet to be seen, but he has that type of ability.”

The Cardinals love Reddick’s outside rush skills, but they’re also impressed with how he handled the switch to the inside during the week in Mobile.

“He looked comfortable,” Foote said.

Reddick provides the Cardinals positional flexibility, a theme of this year’s draft class. It’s expected Reddick will begin his pro career inside, meaning he’ll be coached by Foote, who is entering his third season as the Cardinals’ inside linebackers coach.

The two already have a relationship.

After the Combine and before the draft, Foote traveled to Philadelphia to spend some time with Reddick. The purpose was twofold: To get to know the person and to determine whether the 22-year-old player was worthy of the Cardinals’ first-round consideration.

A dinner was followed by a private workout on the Temple campus the next day.

The workout, according to Foote, was more of a walkthrough. Reddick had already checked all the boxes athletically. Foote, and the Cardinals, wanted to see if he would be able to check the boxes that couldn’t be measured.

“As a middle linebacker you want to see if a guy can talk, can communicate and remember things, can be a leader out there, be a quarterback; and he answered those questions for me,” Foote said.

From there, Reddick visited the Cardinals, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Reddick’s story is well-known. A native of Camden, NJ, who arrived at Temple as a walk-on and didn’t earn a scholarship until after his junior season, he’s had to work, and work hard, for everything. It’s a work ethic, Foote believes, Reddick will maintain even as an NFL first-round draft pick.

“Me being from the inner city, I can relate to that,” said Foote, who grew up in Detroit. “We just naturally, just from our environment, we got that chip on our shoulder. He went the hard route as far as always having something to prove, being the underdog, overlooked; nobody wanting him to now, people are watching him. Hopefully, he’s learning how blessed he was, I mean being picked 13th overall. There’s thousands of kids that didn’t even hear their named called that’s heartbroken right now, so hopefully he will appreciate that and don’t waste his opportunity.”

Reddick will be back in Arizona next week for a three-day rookie mini-camp.

That is when the real work begins, but not so much on the field. Yes, Reddick has a lot to learn in that regard, especially transitioning from college to the pro game which can be overwhelming for many in his position.

No, Reddick needs to work on one specific thing, according to Foote, and it’s the one thing that separates the good player from the great player.

“Just attention to detail. He just got to be a pro. Any kid, I don’t care first-round to a free-agent, you just got to be a pro,” he said. “As soon as he makes that commitment — him maximizing his ability — that process begins. He just everyday got to be consistent. We all know the God-given ability.

“So, when you get guys of that type of ability, now you can be a Ray Lewis, you can be a Luke Kuechly, you can be some of these freaks out here in the league, like a Karlos Dansby, those guys, but now you’ve got to make the decision that I’m going to be a pro and I’m going to attack it from a mental standpoint because there’s a lot of freaks that come in this league but they don’t make that decision to be a Ray Lewis or Luke Kuechly. As long as he makes that (decision) the arrow is pointing up.”

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