The younger brother of free agent Eric Reid, Justin Reid has his eyes on the NFL at the same position. Reid went to Stanford, and while he played sparingly as a freshman, he recorded his first interception. His sophomore year saw him named honorable mention All-Pac 12. However, his junior season is what boosted his draft stock. He was able to intercept five passes and was named second-team All-American. Where did this put his draft stock and how would he fit on the Pittsburgh Steelers?
The best way to describe Justin Reid at Stanford is versatility. Reid played in the box, as a single high safety, a two-high safety, and in the slot.
The skill set of Reid shaped out to be rather versatile as well. He brings a nice blend of strength, speed, and understanding. Reid is a very fluid mover. He spent most of his junior year in the slot. With that, he showed his foot quickness and hip fluidity to change directions and maintain speed.
In the play below, he is able to line up in the slot and follow the receiver to shut down the outside route. Watch his feet and body fluidity as he turns around while maintaining quickness with the receiver.
Notice his movement as he shuts off the inside while maintaining speed down the field from the slot.
And the hip fluidity as he is able to keep up down the field with his target.
Reid also plays with the strength of a player who can move to safety in the NFL. Watch this blitz off of the edge. He is able to slam the offensive tackle to the ground with his pursuit to the quarterback. He can play strong.
Reid also has no issues stepping into the box to make plays against the run.
Reid also shows that physicality in zone, always looking to re-route his opponent if he crosses into his territory.
The nuance to stay physical in zone and make those small little chips shows, he is a generally aware player. If he transitions to a free safety understanding is going to be a huge part of his play. In the play below he is able to hold his zone and recognize the play. Stanford effectively cut off both options.
And to put it all together are the ball skills to make plays down the field. His interceptions were not gimmes by any stretch. Most featured strong plays on the ball like the play below. Reid has great athleticism and understanding to make plays on the ball down the field.
One of the bigger questions surrounding Reid and his move to deep safety is his ability to diagnose misdirection and double moves. He can get caught up biting at times. In the play below, he reads the motion perfectly. However, the play action on top of that gets him. He bites inside for it and loses the man he came into the box to follow. The back gets free for a first down.
Reid makes a false step inside, trying to put his hands on the receiver. However, he misses and ends up a step behind over the middle of the field.
Below, the Reid bits on the move to the inside, and exposes himself to a quick redirect to open space outside.
Reid also has some questions in terms of his tackling ability. He may be just a step slow to make a play on the ball below, but what hurts, even more, is letting the receiver bounce off of him.
Reid also is still raw in taking angles when moving downhill. He was much more efficient against the run closer to the line of scrimmage.
Devin McCourty New England Patriots
When you watch Reid, the versatility stands out in a similar way to McCourty. The Patriots are able to change game plans so much because he can wear so many different hats. If it is a slot receiver, tight end, or back, he is there. If he needs to play deep on DeAndre Hopkins side, he is there. Multiple schemes, close to the line, the middle of the field or deep, he is there. This is a similar skill set that Justin Reid is able to bring to the table.
Fit for Pittsburgh Steelers
There are questions as to how long Mike Mitchell will be with the Pittsburgh Steelers. If he is back for 2018, that likely will be it. Therefore drafting a free safety has to be on the table in 2018. Does Reid fit that role?
He is a bit raw in his diagnoses, but the biggest draw against Mitchell is biting for misdirection and double moves as well. Mitchell is more physical, but Reid may turn out to be a better athlete is moving sideline to sideline.
The fluidness and movement are there on tape, and while it was not exactly his role, he looked comfortable deep in space with the opportunity. Reid’s tape says second round with the idea that projection is in mind. However, his athletic traits, clean background, strong interviews, and NFL bloodlines could easily push him into the late first. This may be when the Steelers have to decide on him, and it may be their best scheme fit for safety.