A Look At Detroit Lions 2018 UDRFA Linebacker Chad Meredith.
Of the Detroit Lions undrafted rookie free agent signings in 2018, Chad Meredith has possibly the best chance among the group to make the final 53-man roster. This has partially to do with a perceived lack of depth at the EDGE position after Devon Kennard, a position where Meredith made his living at Southeast Missouri.
At 6’4, 240 lbs, Meredith has the prototypical size and weight you want to see out of an EDGE player and is becoming quite the common build for linebacker added to the Lions defense since new head coach Matt Patricia has taken over. These physical tools helped him find great production his senior year. He recorded six sacks, three interceptions, 106 tackles, with 12 of them counting for a loss. He averaged nearly 12 tackles a game in 2017.
While the lack of depth at his position certainly helps his cause, Meredith has the talent to be a starter in this league. He needs to work on his hand usage and needs to develop a better plan of attack when rushing the passer. But his instincts are evident on almost every snap he plays.
Meredith’s mental processing is fast. He is able to diagnose read-option runs quite well in college. He showed solid gap discipline and awareness to not allow quarterbacks many scrambling opportunities. While he had some experience playing off-ball linebacker, his best plays come the closer he plays to the line of scrimmage.
This is partially because he looks to have some athletic limitations. While he does have good length and bend around the edge, he possesses more straight line speed than he does laterally. Top speed is not overly impressive. But burst, instincts, and proper angles kept Meredith all over running backs in backside pursuit. Long arms help him extend well, which aids in his ability to stack and shed.
His abilities as a pass rusher need the most work. Primary pass rush move so far was a slap and rip, which comes and goes with inconsistencies in hand usage. Working on both should be a primary focus on Meredith’s development going forward. However, one thing he does very well as a rusher is his ability to knock down passes when his pass rush stalls. He does have some athletic limitations but vertical jumping ability is not one them. Combined with great passing lane anticipation has led to a high amount of balls batted down by the Lions new edge rusher.
I do not always put much personal stock into whether or not an undrafted rookie free agent makes a team or not, but Meredith is one player I am actively rooting for. I think he has the potential to be a starter in the NFL. He has plenty of the abilities you look for, but cannot teach like size, length, jumping ability, and instincts. However, he does need to work on hand usage and developing a pass rushing plan. Combined with Patricia’s legacy of getting the most out of his linebackers, Meredith has a real shot to make the Lions roster for the 2018 NFL season.