‘I’m in it right now’: OSU’s Rodriguez ready to impress at NFL Scouting Combine | OSU Sports Extra

STILLWATER — Malcolm Rodriguez was a senior at Waggoner High School when he last trained to walk like he’s been doing for the past two months.

strengthening his hamstrings. Crafting his technique. build speed.

In 2016, the future Oklahoma State All-American linebacker spent a season on the Bulldogs track team. He mainly ran the 100-meter dash and the 4×100 relay.

“I was the greatest out there,” Rodriguez said of Phoenix last week. “I thought I would be good. I had all the muscle mass with me. The line speed is different.”

More recently, Rodriguez stayed in Arizona and returned to his roots after winning the Cowboys’ Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1. He has since trained at Exos – the Phoenix-based headquarters of the chain of high-end athletic training centers – in preparation for the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

Rodriguez arrived at the scouting event in Indianapolis this week with two key questions from professional talent evaluators hanging over his head: size and speed.

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He can’t do much against his 5-foot-11, 225-pound frame. So Rodriguez spent his time in Phoenix trying to get faster.

“They always talk about my speed,” he said. “Everyone thinks I’m going to run a slow 40 (yard dash). I have a number I don’t want to throw out. But let’s just say I’m going to move.”

Rodriguez is one of three Cowboys among 324 NFL prospects invited to Indianapolis for medical exams, interviews with NFL teams and on-field practice.

OSU running back Jaylen Warren will practice with the running backs, offensive lineman and special teamers Friday afternoon. Rodriguez gets his shot Saturday to show his speed with the defender and linebackers. And safety Kolby Harvell-Peel ended Sunday with the defenders. Daily coverage can be found on NFL Network.

“To be invited,” Rodriguez said. “That’s a huge achievement.”

Rodriguez earned his spot at the combine after leading the Big 12 with 123 total tackles in his final season last fall.

His journey to becoming OSU’s defensive engine in 2021 began in 2019 when Rodriguez switched from safety to linebacker. He amassed 314 tackles in his new position and finished his collegiate career as the fourth all-time leading tackler at OSU.

In the days leading up to his trip to the combine, Rodriguez wondered why former teammates like Devin Harper, Christian Holmes and Tay Martin hadn’t also received invites to Indianapolis. He will likely be joined by many of his NFL Draft-qualified teammates in Stillwater later this month for OSU’s Pro Day on March 24.

Rodriguez spent his pre-combine training in Phoenix alongside Harvell-Peel and Harper. In addition to physical training, Exos subjects trainees to draft interview prep and practice exams for Wonderlic, the cognitive ability test that many NFL organizations are phasing out but others are still adhering to.

“I’ve done the ACT five times,” Rodriguez said. “It’s similar. You keep taking it and after a while it goes smoother.”

But the biggest test for Rodriguez in Indianapolis will come in the 40-yard dash and the other agility tests on the combine board.

He prepared for that in Arizona.

“These are things I’ve never done before,” he said. “I learned the nature of the circuit and how racing stars handle it. It’s one of those things that I kind of had to study and get my feet wet on. It’s kind of smooth now.”

A strong combine performance, combined with feature films full of safe tackles and packed stat sheets, will strengthen Rodriguez’s standing among the teams.

A future in the pros isn’t a sure thing for the AP All-Big 12 first-teamer. His retirement plans include opening a gym with his brother Roman.

But as he prepared to appear in front of pro scouts last week, Rodriguez made it clear his pursuit of an NFL dream is full steam ahead.

“It’s definitely flat out,” he said. “It’s one of those things that you focus on. You can’t go halfway in. You have to go all the way in. That’s my mindset. I’m on it right now.”

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