Eagles Training Camp

Reddick on board with Nolan Smith's ‘Mini Haason' label

Jordan Mailata called Nolan Smith 'Mini Haason' last week and Haason Reddick is fine with that nickname

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When asked about rookie Nolan Smith last week, Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata had a pretty good comp in mind.

“Mini Haason Reddick, man,” Mailata said.

Mailata obviously isn’t the only one to make this connection. Back when the Eagles drafted Smith with the No. 30 overall pick, the comparisons to Reddick — because they’re both quick, undersized pass rushers — were unavoidable.

But through a few weeks of training camp, it’s proving true. There are a lot of similarities in their games. And Reddick is on board with his teammates calling Smith “Mini Haason.”

“I love it, man,” Reddick said. “Just even when [Smith] was coming in, he was like, ‘I’m here to watch you, man. I’m here to learn from you. I’m excited to have this opportunity to be able to learn from you.’ 

“I remember when I was that guy. I remember when I was a young guy coming into the league and watching Von Miller tape and learning from Chandler Jones back when I was on the Cardinals. Having guys like that to look up to, it gives you something to strive towards. And I’m excited that I’ve worked hard enough to be able to be that for somebody else, let alone, somebody on my team.”

Smith, 22, has had a very good training camp and has flashed a ton. He had some ups and downs in the first preseason game on Saturday in Baltimore but, overall, it was a positive step for him, especially the one play when he dipped around the edge for a QB hit.

While Reddick has grown into a Pro Bowl edge rusher, the beginning of his career was more of a struggle and plenty of folks called him a first-round bust. But, really, Reddick was being played out of position early in his career in Arizona. Because of his size and athleticism, the Cardinals played him at off-ball linebacker and he didn’t begin to take off until he moved to the edge and began attacking quarterbacks.

Reddick was a rookie in 2017, so it’s not like that was decades ago. But the NFL has come a long way since then in terms of overlooking body prototypes at the position. And Reddick’s success is probably a big reason why.

On Monday, Reddick was asked if he thought teams would have moved Smith to linebacker if Smith came out of college five years earlier.

“Oh man. More than likely,” Reddick said. “But who knows. The game continues to progress and get innovative every year.”

It’s very possible that Reddick’s success — 39 1/2 sacks in the last three years — is a big reason why some teams are now overlooking the prototypes if a player has unique ability. The Eagles are obviously one of those teams. They saw first-hand how good an undersized but athletic pass rusher can play in the NFL with Reddick last season and that probably gave them a nudge to draft Smith.

From the moment Smith was drafted in April, he talked about the opportunity to learn from Reddick.

Smith has been doing that all summer.

“Man, the kid’s a sponge,” Reddick said. “He asks questions, he’s watching, he’s learning. He’s another guy who’s been having a good camp. But just continue to learn. I’ll say that for everybody because no matter how long you’ve played this game, there’s always something you can learn and always something you can get better at.”

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