Arizona Cardinals draft pick Shaquille Riddick: ‘I’m going to find my way to the ball’

May 2, 2015, 8:36 PM | Updated: 8:47 pm
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TEMPE, Ariz. – The chronicle of Shaquille Riddick would tell an interesting story.

After graduated high school with an associate’s degree, he went to Gardner Webb, where he excelled. He graduated with a year of eligibility remaining, so he transferred to West Virginia.

Where, again, he excelled.

“This could not have worked out any better if I had had to write it up myself,” he said of his winding journey, which led to Arizona selecting him in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, 158th overall.

Last season, with the Mountaineers, Riddick collected 27 total tackles to go along with 11 tackles for loss, including seven sacks.

The previous season he amassed 8.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and 17 QB hurries en route to being an FCS All-America selection at defensive end by eight different services. He also finished fifth in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is given annually to the best defensive player in FCS.

He had more to prove, though.

“I pretty much dominated FCS ball my junior year, and I graduated in three years, so I had the option to transfer without sitting out,” he said. “So that’s when I took that opportunity to play against the best.”

Riddick noted that he had to step up his game and work on his technique in order to survive and make plays in the Big 12. The move helped him become a better player, and the 4.65 40-yard dash along with a 36-inch vertical jump and 3-cone drill of 6.8 seconds didn’t hurt his stock, either.

But with just one year of experience against high-level competition, Riddick still remains a bit of an unknown. ProFootballFocus.com said his pass rushing productivity in conference play was the best in the Big 12 for 3-4 defensive ends in his class last season, so it is not as if he failed to make an impact against stiffer competition.

While the NFL presents another step up in quality, Riddick says the Cardinals plan to use him as an outside linebacker. While he said he would be comfortable playing wherever the team wants him to, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound player added that rushing the quarterback from the edge is where he’s at his best.

“I just feel like outside linebacker, I’ll be more of a bully compared to where I was with my hand in the ground, because at West Virginia I was in a 3-technique and a 4-technique playing against double-teams against the guards and the tackles and still holding my own,” he said. “So, when it comes to me standing up on the edge at Arizona, I’m going to be able to manhandle whoever I want to manhandle out there.”

As the third defensive player picked by the team in the draft, following second-round choice Markus Golden out of Missouri and fourth-round selection Rodney Gunter out of Delaware State, it is hoped Riddick will develop into a player who can help Arizona get after the quarterback. For all the team’s defense did well last season, its 35 total sacks stuck out like a sore thumb, ranking just 24th in the NFL.

Whether or not Riddick will be able to come in as a rookie and make an impact is anyone’s guess, but if nothing else, effort should not be an issue.

“I would just describe it as a relentless pursuit to the quarterback,” he said when asked to describe his pass rush ability. “I might not always get here on my first move or my second move, but I’m going to find my way to the ball.”

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