Inside Scouting Report:LaRod Stephens-Howling

AZRedReport.com's Amberly Dressler caught up with Scout.com's Pittsburgh publisher Dale Grdnic to get the inside scoop on the Cardinals' seventh-round pick, LaRod Stephens-Howling. Grdnic fields questions about Stephens-Howling's ability to become an every down back in the NFL, character questions, what impressed him most about and much more in this can't miss exclusive.

Amberly Dressler: What's impressed you most on the field about LaRod Stephens Howling in the time you've covered Pitt?

Dale Grdnic: In the four years that LaRod was at Pitt, there were few players, if any, who were a nicer, more respectful young man than LaRod. On the field, his great overall speed and tremendous burst made it possible for him to break a long run every time he touched the ball. He is an intelligent player with good vision and excellent hands. He obviously can break a run outside and take it the distance, but Wannstedt has that NFL coaching mentality and liked to pound the ball between the tackles as well. That wasn't ideal for LaRod, but he didn't shy away from the responsibility.

AD:What about off the field?

DG Off the field, as I said, he was just a real good kid. He was the starting tailback his first two seasons and was demoted after LeSean McCoy arrived, but he never complained once during his final two seasons. Privately or publicly. Just an all-around classy kid.

AD:What's one thing Cardinals fans need to know about the Cardinals seventh-round pick?

DG: One thing about LaRod is that even though he's not a big guy he's really tough. With his speed, he'd prefer to run past a defender, but he won't shy away from delivering a blow if necessary. And as a gunner on special teams, he is a sure tackler who most assuredly will knock a runner down if he gets a shot.

AD:The Cardinals featured an ailing return game last season. How can LaRod Stephens Howling help?

DG: LaRod is an excellent kickoff returner, and he should boost the Cardinals' return game immediately in that area. He returned punts in high school, but didn't work at it in college until his senior season at Pitt. Fielding punts isn't easy to do, obviously, but I would guess that if asked LaRod would work at it even more and become proficient.

AD:What do you think his chances of being a legitimate every down back in the NFL are?

DG: LaRod will be the first to say that he's been counted out since his youth, mostly due to his lack of size, but he has a big heart and is a hard worker. So, I wouldn't want to say he couldn't be an every-down back. However, it's clearly documented that he struggled with nagging injuries during his first two seasons when he had an every-down role at Pitt. Once he shared time with McCoy the final two seasons, his injuries decreased. It's also notable that his strength and conditioning improved those final two seasons as well.

Even though he is slightly built and weighed about 140 pounds (maybe, soaking wet, probably) when he arrived at Pitt, he was a solid 180 when he left. So, he's a lot bigger and certainly tougher than when he arrived.

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