Detroit Lions: Examining the Fit of Each 2022 NFL Draft Pick

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images) /
5 of 6
Detroit Lions, Malcolm Rodriguez
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

Malcolm Rodriguez, Linebacker, Oklahoma State

The Detroit Lions selected Malcolm Rodriguez, a sleeper linebacker out of Oklahoma State, in the sixth round. The Lions have one of the weaker linebacker rooms in the NFL, giving Rodriguez an exciting chance to contribute early, especially for a sixth-round pick. Rodriguez could be expected to see time early as a sub-package linebacker in passing downs.

Rodriguez, a converted safety, is a good athlete for a linebacker with plenty of speed to spare. He knows how to use his speed, making him an effective player. He is good in both man and zone coverage, not allowing a single TD in coverage in 2021.

In the run game, he can patrol from sideline to sideline with his speed, and he is smart enough to know where to go allowing him to rack up 409 tackles in his college career. Rodriguez can struggle to get off blocks in the run game as he is undersized. This will limit his ability as a true three-down linebacker, but he can be an effective sub-package linebacker and special team ace while developing that part of his game.

James Houston, Linebacker, Jacksonville State

James Houston was the selection in the seventh round, giving the Lions another versatile piece in the front seven. Williams started off at Florida as an inside linebacker before transferring to James Houston, where he switched over to edge.

For the Lions, expect Houston to play a little bit of both whenever on the field. Like other linebacker acquisitions, Houston is another outstanding athlete with plenty of speed and explosiveness. Houston has a lot of development needed if he wants to become a starter in the NFL, but for now, he can be a capable depth piece at both linebacker and edge and a good special team piece.