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Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez can be a mismatch

Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez models his game after Patriots’ AarHernandez. | Rob Carr~Getty Images

Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez models his game after the Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez. | Rob Carr~Getty Images

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Updated: May 30, 2012 8:32AM



During a pre-draft interview at Halas Hall, Bears general manager Phil Emery asked Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez whom he modeled himself after.

Rodriguez replied Aaron Hernandez, a Pro Bowl tight end for the New England Patriots.

“I said, ‘OK, let’s look that up.’ So we got right into our system,” Emery said.

Similarities abound. Rodriguez, drafted in the fourth round, 111th overall, was selected two spots ahead of Hernandez. He’s 7/8 of an inch shorter. They’re the exact same weight (239 pounds). They’re from the East Coast.

“We’ll let him play first before we say he’s as good as a pro,” Emery said. “But, yeah, there are comparisons.”

The Bears hope so.

They envision him as what Emery called a “move tight end,” a player who can line up in multiple positions, competently block defensive ends and stretch the field for the Bears’ offense.

“What that does to a defense is it forces them to stay in more of their base [defense] instead of bringing in a nickel or sub-package personnel and match up with a straight-seam tight end,” Emery said. “We really believe that Evan provides that for us.”

Rodriguez had limited production at Temple, but Emery chalked that up to opportunities.

“My strengths as a player, I’m versatile. I’m a mismatch for teams,” Rodriguez said. “You can put me in any situation, and I’m a comfortable guy. If the coaches tell me to do something, I’ll do it, no questions asked.”

Rodriguez, though, had to answer some though questions from Emery and other NFL executives, given his assorted off-the-field issues. He was booted from West Virginia after a physical altercation with a female residential hall advisor, and he reportedly was arrested for disorderly conduct in 2009.

In 2010, he was suspended for a game for breaking an unspecified team rule.

“Well, basically, as my dad says, we all make mistakes,” he said. “It’s growing pains as long as you learn from your mistakes and don’t let them happen again and mature, which I have done.

“They believed in me, and I’m happy they gave me this opportunity and I’m not going to let them down.”

Emery certainly did his share of homework. He often visits Temple, and he personally knows several people who have worked with Rod­riguez. Bears coaches and scouts also did their due diligence.

Hernandez, in part, dropped to the fourth round because of some character concerns, mostly linked to marijuana use. But he has had no issues with the Patriots, and he went to the Pro Bowl last season after catching 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns.

Rodriguez wants to have similar success, although he has his work cut out for him.

“Aaron has worked really hard to get where he has been,” Rodriguez said. “I’m not there yet, but I do [view] my style as similar to Aaron’s. I have a lot of work to do. I’m just happy.”



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