2013 Draft Profile: FS – Eric Reid
FS Eric Reid out of LSU is a player the 49ers may look to at No. 31. Reid is projected as a 2nd rounder, but at 31 overall, it might not be that much of a stretch. If he is the player the 49ers covet. Doubt he is there at the end of the 2nd round, but with 14 picks the 49ers do have fire power if they chose to trade up.
LSU has been especially strong in producing defensive backs to the NFL, with Reid entering his junior season every bit as highly regarded as former top six picks Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne and LaRon Landry.
Reid, the son of a former three-time All-American (1984-87) sprinter for LSU with the same name, signed with the Tigers as a highly regarded prep prospect and immediately made an impact, playing in all 13 games and earning starts in the final three regular season contests. He posted 32 tackles, including a tackle for loss and demonstrated the ability to make big plays in big games immediately, snaring his two interceptions against the likes of Ryan Mallett (Arkansas) and Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) in the Cotton Bowl.
Reid was even more dynamic in his second season as LSU’s starting free safety, tying Tyrann Mathieu with the team lead in tackles (76), including 53 solo stops. He also registered two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles (one recovered) and two interceptions (Tennessee, Alabama). Reid’s interception against Alabama came at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, preserving the 6-6 tie that eventually led to LSU’s overtime victory.
The play was characterized by ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit as the top defensive play of the 2011 regular season and Reid was recognized as the SEC’s and Bronko Nagurski Trophy’s Defensive Player of the Week for his effort against the Tide (six tackles, one for loss, forced fumble, INT).
Though he was named a member of the First Team All-SEC team in 2012, Reid wasn’t as flashy in what turned out to be his final season in Baton Rouge. He collected 91 tackles, seven pass breakups and two interceptions on the season.
While his talent and tools scream top 32 pick, Reid displayed some maddening inconsistency in 2012. He has a tendency to be too aggressive, biting on misdirection when playing in the box, and that intensity has also led to an alarming amount of penalties for late hits and pass interference.
Strengths: Possesses the prototypical frame for the position, boasting wide shoulders, long arms and a tapered frame. Reid is a fantastic downhill athlete with quick read-and-react ability to attack the play with steam spurting from his ears. He might be the explosive hitter from the safety position in the 2013 draft, closing with the speed and physicality of a linebacker rather than a defensive back.
Possesses the size and athleticism combination teams are desperate to find to counter the hybrid receiver/tight ends taking over the seams. Doesn’t possess top flexibility but accelerates surprisingly well for his length and has good straight-line speed, overall. Physical with receivers downfield and plays 50-50 balls well, using his size and strength to his advantage.
Weaknesses: Reid’s biggest strength is also his greatest weakness. He plays with nonstop aggressiveness and intensity, but he doesn’t always control that hostility in a smart way on the football field. He throws his body around and might be the most violent striker in the SEC, but if Reid doesn’t learn how to play smarter and harness his fierce playing style then he’ll have a tough time making a living in the NFL.
He is a bit stiff in coverage and can be beaten by quicker slot receivers. Has been protected by some awfully talented cornerbacks throughout his career and wasn’t the playmaker in 2012 he had been the past two seasons with Claiborne and Mathieu no longer on the roster.
Compares To: LaRon Landry, FS, New York Jets — Reid signed with LSU patterning his game after the former Tigers’ standout and it shows in his physique and bone-jarring hits. Of concern to scouts is the fact that Reid, like Landry, is a bit stiff and not as fast on the field in deep coverage as he may test during workouts.
It was a no-brainer for Reid, a highly-touted national recruit with an excellent academic record, to commit to LSU. His father is in the school’s athletic hall of fame as an All-American hurdler, winning the NCAA championship in the 110-meter hurdles as a senior in 1987. Eric Reid, Sr. still works on the LSU campus, so his son got to know the facilities and team’s coaches quite well growing up.
That familiarity bred early success for Reid, as he played in all 13 games, got crucial playing time against Alabama (six tackles, one for loss) and got starts in the final three regular season games. And though he didn’t start the team’s bowl win over Texas A&M, he still came through with seven stops and an interception. As a sophomore, Reid started all 12 games in which he played, leaving the Ole Miss game and missing the Arkansas contest with a thigh injury. His team-leading 76 tackles, two interceptions, three pass break-ups and two forced fumbles on the year earned him second-team All-SEC honors from league media. Reid continued that momentum into 2012, starting every game while compiling 91 total tackles. He added seven pass breakups to go with two interceptions.
Strengths: Tall, long safety with a solid overall build that is still getting stronger. All-around defender who can play the run and pass. Flashes excellent closing speed, pummels receivers after the catch when coming downhill and can get into the backfield if smelling out the play after the snap. Has length and attitude to wrap up ballcarriers in the open field. Brings power into cut tackles, lowering his shoulder to stop running backs cold. Also lays the wood over the middle, putting a shoulder into their midsection. Gets physical with receivers attempting to block him in the run game. Has athleticism to handle tight ends in the passing game. Possesses the height, vertical and competitive nature to win jump balls. Good enough hands to take advantage of poor throws, will undercut receivers and can catch the ball away from his frame.
Weaknesses: Gets overaggressive at times; will jump on short crossers, opening up the back half of the field, and overrun stretch plays to allow cutback lanes. Not a consistently powerful tackler, and will lunge and miss in the open field as he often fails to break down quickly. Recovery speed will be questioned, might be tough for him to catch NFL receivers if he takes a false step or in the aid of a teammate. Had shoulder surgery after his junior season in high school, though it hasn’t hurt him in college.
NFL Comparison: Mark Barron
Bottom Line: The next SEC safety on which scouts have their eye, Reid brings the size, athleticism, intelligence and toughness to become an impact player in coverage (14 passes defended in the last two seasons) as well as against the run (91 total tackles) at the next level. The junior can get too overaggressive with his angles, but if Reid can rein in the athleticism, he has plenty of range to make plays all over the field.