First Round, 18th Pick
A big, athletic, intimidating force in the middle of LSU's defense, Eric Reid has the ability to step onto an NFL field and become an immediate contributor. His length makes him a bit choppy changing directions and he lacks great ball skills, but overall he has everything NFL teams look for in potential center-fielder safety prospects, including great range and explosiveness getting to the football.
+ Intimidating size and great length
+ Enforcer over the middle
+ Range to play multiple coverages
- Undisciplined eyes, gets manipulated by quarterbacks
- Leggy out of breaks and tall in his backpedal
- Doesn’t make plays on the ball
Tools ( + )
Reid is a big, rangy junior safety who has started the last two years for a very good LSU defense. An enforcer over the middle of the field, Reid is an intimidating force against both the run and pass. He displays impressive range and closing speed to blow plays up.
His length and high-cut build give him some change-of-direction issues. He shows the range to play the single-high safety spot, but it’s unlikely that he will ever be able to drop down and play slot wide receivers in man coverage in the NFL.
Reid's impressive athleticism on tape showed up at the Combine workouts, as he recorded the best Vertical and Broad jumps for safeties (40.5" and 11'2", respectively). He was average in the Three-Cone (6.99) and Short Shuttle (4.22) - unsurprising for his size and length.
Reid’s LSU teammates named him team captain for his junior season.
LSU has become “defensive back U” with so many highly recruited and drafted defensive backs coming from their campus over the last decade or so. LSU plays a lot of man coverage, giving Reid a lot of looks as a single-high safety. He also plays plenty of Cover Two, Quarters and other split-safety coverages.
Playing the Ball
Reid isn’t very natural playing the ball in the air. While he will occasionally make a spectacular play and recorded two interceptions each season in college, he doesn’t have very natural hands. He reacts slowly to the ball in the air and allows it to get into his chest.
He also tends to get fixated on laying a killshot against wide receivers as opposed to trying to play the ball in the air, which could get him into trouble in the NFL with its more stringent rules to protect defenseless receivers.
Against the Run
A devastating force coming down the alley, Reid usually makes his presence felt in the run game within the first few plays of every game. He has moments where he comes out-of-control, but for the most part he’s very disciplined about maintaining his angles and leverage on the runner.
When he has an opening to make a tackle, he needs to shoot the window and take it because his questionable change-of-direction can get him in trouble if the back presses and forces him to break down in space.
Reid doesn’t play slot receivers very much in man coverage (that’s simply not his game), but he often comes down into the box and covers running backs who release into patterns. He has the size and speed to cover tight ends in the NFL, but it’s not something he has extensive experience with.
Most of Reid’s experience in coverage is playing deep from single-high or split-safety coverages. He also plays a lot of robber coverage and occasionally comes down for underneath curl/flat coverages.
He shows he has the range to play all the deep safety coverages, but he’s tall in his backpedal and leggy when changing directions, often causing him to take extra steps and get to the ball late. If he can clean up his technique and improve his lower body strength (in order to be able to plant and drive more quickly), it will greatly improve his ability to play as an interchangeable safety.
While Reid can get overly-aggressive and out-of-control at times, for the most part he’s excellent at getting his whole body into the tackle and getting his target to the ground. His size and long limbs are a major advantage in being able to wrap up bigger ball-carriers, and he’s able to generate an incredible amount of force in his hits.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Reid’s size, tackling ability, and intimidating presence in the middle of the field will likely make him an intriguing option for multiple NFL teams. If/when he improves his lower body strength, he should be able to play as a true interchangeable safety, with the range to work all the deep coverages with ease. Until then, he’ll best be used moving forward and attacking downhill.
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