Rashad Byrd isn't considered the top linebacker in the 2021 NFL Draft, but there's no question that he has the necessary skills to succeed at the next level.
Just from watching Byrd's tape at Georgia Southern, you'll notice that he has sideline-to-sideline speed and smooth footwork. He's shown that he can drop in coverage, rush the passer and stop the run.
During his Georgia Southern career, Byrd had 247 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes defended, four interceptions and three sacks. His production on the field earned him All-Sun Belt honors in 2019 and 2020.
In case scouts weren't sold on Byrd yet, the talented linebacker posted a 34-inch vertical jump and 9’6” broad jump at his pro day just to prove that he's an explosive athlete.
We sat down with Rashad Byrd to discuss his career at Georgia Southern, if he believes he's flying under the radar, what he'll bring to an NFL roster and much more.
The Spun: How do you believe you performed at your pro day?
Rashad Byrd: I thought I did well. I didn’t put up the best numbers in the world, but they definitely weren’t the worst. It was great to get out there and get feedback from NFL personnel. I’m always trying to learn and get better.
The Spun: How has this process as a whole been for you?
RB: It’s been crazy. From playing in the Hula Bowl to training in Orlando, it’s been a crazy process. I wouldn’t trade it for the world though.
The Spun: What's your favorite moment at Georgia Southern?
RB: My favorite moment would have to be against Minnesota. I had 11 tackles and a strip sack for a touchdown, and we actually went up with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. We couldn’t pull it through, but it was a great game.
The Spun: Which NFL players do you like to watch on film?
RB: I love watching Devin White. He’s a guy who is similar to my stature and he can run from sideline to sideline. He does so many great things, which we saw during the playoffs. Darius Leonard is another guy who I like to watch. He’s going out on the field ready to hit someone. I love the aggressive aspect that he brings to the table.
The Spun: What’s your best quality on the field?
RB: I would say my IQ. It’s easy to go out there and do the wrong thing, but if you know how the play is going to unfold, it’s much easier to be a playmaker out there.
The Spun: What are you trying to improve before the NFL?
RB: I would say my pass-rushing skills and my man-on-man skills. I know those are two totally different skills, but those are things I’m trying to brush up. During my college career, we didn’t play much man coverage, and when we did, it was on a running back. So I’m going out there against slot receivers and tight ends in order to improve my game.
The Spun: Pro Football Focus has you ranked in the top three for most valuable linebackers in this draft class. What do you think when you hear that?
RB: It’s funny because my assistant coach, Travis Cunningham, told me to never listen to the propaganda. It was definitely a good feeling to see me on my list. I’m out here to prove myself right rather than prove other people wrong, if that makes sense. Since I’m a Group of 5 player, a lot of people will say there aren’t many good teams in the Sun Belt Conference. It was a great feeling, don’t get me wrong, but I still have a lot of work to do.
The Spun: What’s been your inspiration throughout this journey?
RB: I play for my teammates, those are the guys I go to war with every day. Having a bond with them is awesome. Coach Cunningham told me he never had a linebacker go in the NFL Draft and play, so I’m hoping to be the first one. I told them I’ll do my best to make sure that happens.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Rashad Byrd?
RB: You’re getting someone who’s going to go to work and someone who is going to be a leader. A leader doesn’t need to be the best player on the team, it can be someone behind the scenes making sure everything is working correctly. That’s what you’re getting in me. I do the right thing, on and off the field.
Byrd is an intriguing Day 3 option for any team in need of help at linebacker.
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