two weeks ago , Detroit Lions Midfielders coach Kelvin Sheppard earned some amazing praise for rising midfielder Malcolm Rodriguez in the sixth round.
“Malcolm Rodriguez is one of the smartest young players I have ever been around,” Sheppard told the Detroit Lions beat reporter Tim Twenteman. “This kid, because he’s a smart player by nature, but on top of that, it’s the work he does. This kid came here in a couple of days and he knew both points (the linebacker).”
With the Lions’ casual activities now coming to a close, Sheppard reflects on what Rodriguez has been able to achieve due to his innate ability to understand the game at the level of an NFL veteran.
“There are things I can do with Malcolm that you might have to cut back with a third-year player, to be honest,” Sheppard said.
One of those things involves having the potential of the green dot. The “green dot” denotes one helmet in defense (with a green label on it) that has radio communication with coaches on the sidelines. This allows them to receive gameplay calls and then communicate with the rest of the defense. Whereas in the past, the green point was traditionally awarded to a team’s center back, the black would work by giving it to whomever they considered the best communication among the three midfielders, regardless of whether they were playing the MIKE (middle) lineback or playing the will mode (weak side) – the position they Rodriguez is currently occupied by him.
“If you show me that you have the communication skills and the mental capacity to handle it, you will wear the green dot,” Sheppard explained. “And (Rodriguez) is definitely a green dot type player, a guy with the abilities to control the defense.”
However, the mental aspect of the game is only part of the equation. Rodriguez comes to the NFL with some size limitations that could challenge his ability to actually execute on the field. His 30-inch arms are well below the NFL average, although his understanding of the leverage from his wrestling background certainly helped him there.
Regardless, Rodriguez still has a lot of work to do before he’s really in the green dot conversation. He has mostly represented with the third team during off-season activities. However, Sheppard admitted that no place on the roster has currently been decided upon, even that of veteran full-back Alex Anzalone.
“(Anzalone) has the most time on the mission in my room, but that doesn’t designate him the initiator,” Sheppard said. “The things we did last year are not acceptable for the standard set this year, so don’t tell me what a guy did last year; I don’t want to hear it, especially from the anxiety of my room. Now, he has the most time on the task, so he’ll get a nod at first, But that doesn’t mean it’s his place. If the next guy does it and does it at a higher level, he understands just like the other eight or nine in the room, that guy will be the guy on the field the first week.”
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