There’s little doubt a safety is in the Draft plans for the Pittsburgh Steelers but who and where in the draft are major questions. Stanford’s Justin Reid checks a lot of the boxes the Steelers usually like. With a safety likely drafted, the plan to get the rookie on the field seems to be at free safety, moving Morgan Burnett to the “dime backer” or “dollar” linebacker spot to be a force against the run and to cover tight ends in the dime formation.
Justin Reid | Stanford
6’1″, 207lbs | Junior
2017 Stats: 94 tackles (54 solo), 6.5 TFL, 1 sack, 5 INT, 6 PD, 1 FR, 0 FF
Background: Has a brother in the NFL, Eric Reid. Has another brother who plays soccer at Coastal Carolina. His father ran track at LSU. Four star recruit out of high school. Nation’s eighth best safety per 247 Sports. FWAA All-American Second-Team as a defensive back. AP All American Second-Team as a safety. All Pac-12 First-Team.
What’s to like: Extremely versatile on the back end with experience at slot cornerback and dollar linebacker. Reliable in zone coverage. Tested very well at the NFL Combine which translated from his tape. Very high football IQ, knows his X’s and O’s very well. In charge of communications and getting the defense lined up. Quick break off when the ball is thrown. Stays in position. High character guy. Has NFL bloodlines with his Brother in the NFL. Quite productive in 2017. Tracks the ball well in the air.
Concerns: Overruns ball carriers which causes missed tackles. Had difficulties finding success in man coverage. Struggled in trail coverage. Can get caught biting on fakes or double moves. Has a tendency to grab at the top of routes when he gets worried he’ll get beat. Needs to speed up his backpedal. Needs to clean up giving up big plays. Only seriously productive his final season at Stanford.
Verdict: Reid’s issues are either correctable or not worrisome at the next level due to his change of use. Most of his struggles were him playing the slot or at linebacker. If drafted by the Steelers, Reid would be playing free safety where he is best suited. He is best in a center field role where he can be the head of communications and shore up the deep zones. The Steelers like their safeties to be able to play both the free and strong spots and Reid is versatile enough to play both. With a high football IQ, a lot of the Steelers’ communication issues could be solved with Reid in the back end.
Grade: 86.5 (End of 1st, Top of the 2nd)
Photo Credit: MercuryNews
Background Credit: Stanford Athletics
Stats Credit: Sports-Reference