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NFL Draft

Jon Rhattigan: 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview Series

  • The Draft Network
  • February 10, 2021
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Every NFL team is searching for players that come from respectable institutions. Adding a young man to your roster that understands the importance of discipline and structure can help improve the culture in your locker room.

Not only does Army linebacker Jon Rhattigan understand and live by these values, but he was also incredibly productive for the Black Knights’ defense last season. Rhattigan totaled 79 tackles in 2020, nine of which went for a loss.

Rhattigan recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his tackling production, how attending Army changed him as a man, and why an NFL team should use one of their draft picks on him.

JM: For those of our readers who are still getting familiar with you as a prospect, how would you describe your skill set?

JR: I’m a multi-dimensional linebacker. I have the ability to run all over the field and cover a ton of grass. I’m a great run defender. I’ve played well in coverage. I’m a guy that can make plays all over the field.

JM: You certainly had the best season of your career in 2020. What changed for you this past season?

JR: I really changed the way that I prepare. My knowledge of the game took a big step forward. I’ve always had the natural instincts and ability to play the linebacker position, but the mental side of things really improved for me as of late. I feel like I put it all together in 2020. I became more of a complete player. I have a better understanding of how to prepare. It all had to do with my coaches, specifically my inside linebackers coach Shiel Wood and our defensive coordinator, coach Nate Woody. Those two coaches helped me out a ton this year. Preparation is really what changed for me this year.

JM: What’s your favorite part of playing the linebacker position?

JR: It gives me a chance to go out there and be physical. I love flying around to the football. It’s a read-and-react game. It’s a physical team game. To go out there and play a physical brand of football with the guys on your defense, there’s nothing better than that. It’s our job to stand tall and stop the offense.

JM: You mentioned being a versatile player. Do you have a preference when it comes to playing downhill against the run or dropping back in coverage?

JR: I like them both. I like making plays. Whether that’s a big tackle for loss or taking the ball the other way in the form of an interception, I really don’t have a preference. I just love to play the position. I’m trying to be a three-down player.

JM: Army is a program that represents the United States Military Academy (USMA). How did your experience there change you?

JR: It certainly helped me. Throughout this draft process, I can already tell that my experiences at Army are going to pay dividends in my future regardless of what happens in the NFL. To be disciplined, to have the structure that I’ve had over the past couple years, the entire program instills great values. It means a lot to me. It really helped me mature and become a better leader and football player.

JM: It’s such a demanding program. As you said, structure and discipline play a huge role. How did you balance football with your other duties?

JR: It was tough at first. It took a lot of getting used to. When you ultimately have so much passion for the game, it makes it a lot easier. I love my teammates. It was definitely difficult at times, but it was worth it. I’m so happy that I did it. Time management is a skill that you learn at the academy. I had a lot of great guidance along the way. My teammates had similar experiences.

JM: I love that. Who would you say is the best offensive player you’ve ever gone up against?

JR: Desmond Ridder, the quarterback at Cincinnati, definitely comes to mind. He’s such a solid quarterback. He didn’t play his best game against us, but we knew what we were in store for as we prepared for that game throughout the week.

JM: He’s a great prospect to watch next year. I’ve really appreciated your time today, Jon. In closing, why should an NFL team use one of their draft picks on Jon Rhattigan?

JR: I think an NFL team should use a draft pick on me because they’re getting an absolute playmaker that’s going to be reliable both on and off the field. I’m going to bring some leadership and the right attitude to the locker room.

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