Texas Football: Breaking Down Where Cedric Reed Landed on First 2015 Big Boards

Zach SheltonFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2014

Texas Football: Breaking Down Where Cedric Reed Landed on First 2015 Big Boards

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    Cedric Reed has the potential to reverse Texas' fortunes in the 2015 NFL draft.
    Cedric Reed has the potential to reverse Texas' fortunes in the 2015 NFL draft.USA TODAY Sports

    There were 256 players taken in the 2014 NFL draft, and not a single one of them played for the University of Texas last season. Thanks to Cedric Reed, the 'Horns have a chance to break back into the first round of next year's draft.

    By not having a player selected this year, the Longhorns snapped a 76-year streak of having at least one player drafted, the longest in the nation. The end of the streak represents that latest and final failure of Mack Brown, whose loaded 2010 recruiting class failed to produce a single NFL draft pick.

    There is, however, some semblance of a silver lining for Texas fans. New head coach Charlie Strong had three players selected in the first round from his previous stint at Louisville, which tied Texas A&M for the most of any collegiate program.

    The second reason for optimism is that Strong will send Reed and his early-round potential to New York to show the program is getting back on track.

Where Reed Is Currently Rated

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    Several pundits consider Reed a high-end prospect for next year's draft.
    Several pundits consider Reed a high-end prospect for next year's draft.USA TODAY Sports

    The following have Reed listed as an early-round pick:

    SB Nation's Dan Kadar: No. 19 overall (No. 4 defensive end)

    NFLDraftScout.com: No. 2 defensive end

    USA Today's Brent Sobleski: No. 19 overall (No. 5 defensive end)

    Draft Site: No. 25 overall (No. 3 defensive end)

    The Sports Xchange's Frank Cooney: No. 79 overall (No. 8 defensive end)

Reed's Career to Date

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    The bar is set high for Reed after his breakout junior season.
    The bar is set high for Reed after his breakout junior season.USA TODAY Sports

    A relative unknown entering the 2013 season, Reed exploded onto the scene as a junior, putting up one of the most impressive seasons of any defender in the country.

    Starting opposite draft snub Jackson Jeffcoat, Reed piled up 10 sacks, batted down four passes and forced five fumbles. Setting career highs in every defensive category, the 6'6" pass-rusher registered multiple sacks in three of his past six games.

    Putting his breakout season in perspective, Reed was one of just two FBS players to record at least five sacks, four pass breakups and five forced fumbles. The other player to do so was Buffalo's Khalil Mack, this year's fifth overall pick. 

Outlook for the 2014 Season

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    Reed will be one of the Big 12's, if not the nation's, best in 2014.
    Reed will be one of the Big 12's, if not the nation's, best in 2014.USA TODAY Sports

    With Jeffcoat out of the picture, Reed enters his senior season as Texas' best defensive player and a focal point of Charlie Strong's defense.

    As broken down by Inside Texas' Ian Boyd, Strong likes to attack the offensive backfield and create one-on-one matchups for his pass-rushers. First-round pick and All-American Marcus Smith was the key to this approach in 2013, piling up 14.5 sacks from his versatile role on the defensive side of the ball.

    Though Strong will cater Reed's role more to his powerful 271-pound frame, his goal will be to unleash his star bookend however possible. So long as either Shiro Davis or Caleb Bluiett develops into a suitable complement on the opposite side, such a role will allow Reed to build on his big junior campaign.

    Any improvement upon the 79 tackles and 13 sacks he recorded last season will surely allow him to follow in Smith's All-American footsteps.

Where Reed Will Be Drafted

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    Reed has the build, motor and skill set of a first- or second-round pick.
    Reed has the build, motor and skill set of a first- or second-round pick.Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Reed will put up numbers in 2014 and earn plenty of recognition for doing so. But as Jackson Jeffcoat can attest, the statistics and awards can only carry you so far on draft day.

    As noted by Burnt Orange Nation's Wescott Eberts, Jeffcoat's missing 13 games and lack of pure strength cost him dearly in NFL circles. Not even unseating Jadeveon Clowney as the Hendricks Award winner could distract teams from those weaknesses.

    Though he has yet to be picked apart in the pre-draft process, Reed should fare better than his former teammate. At 6'6" and over 270 pounds, he will never be labeled as a tweener like Jeffcoat was, and he has never missed a game with an injury.

    Overall, Reed possesses the body type, motor and production to warrant an early-round pick as long as he continues on his current path. If he runs his 40 in the 4.7 range, he will be one of the first five defensive ends off the board.