We're continuing our special NFL draft edition Five Questions With... posts by talking to Temple Football Forever's award winning journalist Mike Gibson. Mike was gracious enough to give us the skinny on new Bears tight end Evan Rodriguez.
Windy City Gridiron - Rodriguez was invited to the NFL combine to compete with the tight ends, he was rated as the top fullback by a few scouting services, I've seen him called a prototypical H-Back, and the Bears plan to use him initially as their "receiving" TE. Do you think he's the kind of player that can eventually be moved all around the field to take advantage of mismatches?
Mike Gibson - This whole "Rodriguez as an H-back" comes pretty surprising to me. At Temple, except in RARE goal-line situations, he was used as a receiving TE. I'm an Eagles' fan as well as a Temple fan and I think he's got better hands and is more explosive in the open field than Brent Celek and I think Celek is pretty good.
WCG - A lot of his highlight videos show him making wide open catches, is he the type of pass catcher that can use his body to shield the defender off and will he attack the ball?
Mike - I think so. Remember, for most of four years his QB was Chester Stewart, a highly inaccurate thrower who took few chances over the middle in throwing the ball into traffic. When the current QB, sophomore and New Mexico Bowl MVP Chris Coyer, got the job, he found Rodriguez a couple of times over the middle in traffic and Rodriguez had no problem winning the jump ball. Rodriguez was an excellent basketball player in high school in North Jersey.
WCG - Rodriguez really lit up the combine in the speed and quickness drills, does that kind of athleticism show up when he's on the field?
Mike - Yes, he was also (believe it or not) an outstanding punt returner in high school. I think there's some You Tube footage of that.
Editor Note: Let's get someone researching that footage...
WCG - His checkered past is a concern for some Bears fans, do you think he's matured to the point that he's put that type of behavior behind him?
Mike - Checkered past was while at West Virginia. When he came to Temple, Al Golden (Temple Head Coach 2006-10) rid him of those habits. Steve Addazio (current Temple Head Coach) just inherited the "new" Evan Rodriguez
WCG - I've seen varying reports on his blocking, what is your opinion on him as a blocker, both as an inline TE and on the move getting after a linebacker?
Mike - He's a fine blocker. He'll win battles at the line of scrimmage and then will often run interference downfield. RBs Bernard Pierce (27 rushing touchdowns) and Matt Brown (6 more) probably will vouch better for him than I.
Thanks again to Mike Gibson, we really appreciate the knowledge...