The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft was marked by a run on offensive lineman. Subsequently, a few really good prospects on the defensive line dropped. The most notable decline was Star Lotulelei tumbling down to the Carolina Panthers at pick #14. Sharriff Floyd fell into the Minnesota Vikings’ lap at pick #23. It was widely known that the San Francisco 49ers were going to trade up to get an impact player. Many thought that it would be a defensive lineman, but it turns out Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh had their sights set on another position.
Free safety was the biggest need for the 49ers. Trent Baalke seemed to be set on Eric Reid from LSU. Apparently, the deal with the Dallas Cowboys was in place yesterday morning. Baalke was able to move up to pick #18 from pick #31. The only additional cost was pick #74 (a 3rd rnd pick). Baalke actually showed Jed York a cutup of Eric Reid in the LSU vs Alabama game on draft day morning. [pullquote_right]“With Dashon Goldson gone, there’s nobody to step in and play. This kid is a big, physical safety with great movement skills. He will be a wonderful complement to Donte Whitner.” — Mike Mayock[/pullquote_right]
One thing that can be said about Baalke is that he will identify the player he wants and will do what he has to do to take him. It happened with a trade up to take Anthony Davis. He selected a raw pass rusher from Missouri with the 7th pick in the 2011 draft. That project turned out to be one of the best young pass rushers in the game, Aldon Smith. Baalke went against conventional wisdom last year by taking AJ Jenkins in the first round.
So that takes us to Eric Reid. One thing is for sure when it comes to this player, he passes the eyeball test. I had the chance to see Reid in person and he is a very well put together athlete. He has the prototypical size. Reid was a combine top performer at his position in the vertical (40.5 inches), broad jump (11 feet) and forty yard dash (4.53 sec).
He fills a big time need for a rangy safety that can be used in single high coverage.
Reid isn’t known for being a ball hawk but he is a guy that can be relied upon to not give up big plays. He will also have a presence against the run. Look for Reid to come up and lay big hits on ball carriers. His size and athletic ability will be an advantage when it comes to matching up against opposing tight ends as well.
Jim Harbaugh actually recruited Reid when he coached at Stanford. Harbaugh didn’t get his guy because Reid wanted to stay home in Louisiana. It turns out that coming into this draft, Reid told his mother that he wanted to be a 49er.
Drafting Eric Reid was the right move. One thing that I absolutely loved about the draft experience was the way he brought his daughter out to the stage with him. He is a complete player with few flaws. One thing that he acknowledged that will need to improve is his ability to wrap up. I expect Reid to be a day one starter and impact player for the 49ers in 2013.