Draft Review: Ed Reed
His greatness caught NFL talent evaluators by surprise
GOSSELIN DRAFT ANALYSIS: Ed Reed was a ballhawk extraordinaire at the University of Miami, intercepting an NCAA-leading nine passes in 2001 and 21 in his career. He broke the school record for interceptions held by Bennie Blades (19) and the Big East record held by Aaron Beasley (18). He returned his interceptions for 209 yards in 2001 and 389 in his career, scoring four touchdowns. He was a four-year starter for the Hurricanes at free safety and a two-time All-Big East selection. He measured 5-11, 201 pounds at the NFL combine and ran a 4.46 on grass at his campus workout. Gosselin rated him 33rd in his Top 100 board in 2002 and the No. 2 safety in the draft behind Roy Williams, the Thorpe Award winner from the University of Oklahoma. Williams went to the Dallas Cowboys on the eighth overall pick and Reed went to the Baltimore Ravens at 24th overall.
Here are comments on Reed from 19 talent evaluators leading up to his 2005 NFL draft:
Scout: You can get him in the second round if you want to move up.
Scout II: Makes plays – lots and lots of interceptions.
Scout III: You’re going to get a lot more than you think you’re getting. He had a shoulder injury in 2001 that popped out and he played with it all year long because he was a great team leader. Against Florida State it popped out and he popped it back in and kept playing. That’s why he wouldn’t hit anybody. He’s tough enough. (Miami defensive coordinator) Randy Shannon swears by him.
Personnel director: My #2 safety.
Personnel director II: Stiff athletically, but that isn’t too much of a concern at free safety.
Personnel director III: Not a good tackler. Drag-down guy who misses at times. Bennie Blades set the standard there – a trained killer. Ed just isn’t tough enough to get them down. If you’re going to play an eight-man front and think he’s going to be a part of it, you’re kidding yourself.
Personnel director IV: He’s like (wide receiver) Josh Reed – he’s not 6-foot, he’s not a 4.4…he’s not a lot of things. He’s just a good football player.
Defensive backfield coach: Didn’t light up people when he was healthy. Wide receivers don’t have to worry about getting blown up when he’s back there.
Defensive backfield coach II: Gym rat. Will tackle. High second (round).
Defensive coordinator: A joke at safety.
Defensive coordinator II: If he has to make a play himself, forget it.
Defensive coordinator III: He’s a fire marshall. He shows up after the fire is out. Coward. Runs by the pile like it’s 7-on-7. He’s not allowed to hit anybody.
Defensive coordinator IV: Like him. Guys that make plays in college make plays in the NFL.
Offensive coordinator: I’m not convinced. He won’t hit you. Scary. At times he looks like he wants no part of contact. But he does make plays.
Head coach: Love his intangibles…but he won’t hit anyone.
Head coach II: Not physical. I’d be nervous about taking him in the first round. Not a tackler – a grabber.
Head coach III: Phenomenal ball skills. Understands the game from the back end as well as anyone I’ve ever been around. With money on the line, he tackled his ass off vs. (2001 Heisman Trophy winner) Eric Crouch (in the Rose Bowl).
General manager: My #2 safety. Makes plays on the ball.
General manager II: Safer pick than Roy Williams. He does what you want a free safety to do. What’s Williams in coverage?
HALL OF FAME RESUME: Not only does Reed have a bust in the Hall of Fame, he was named one of the six safeties on the NFL’s 100th anniversary team. He went to nine Pro Bowls and was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2004. Reed ranks seventh all-time with his 64 career interceptions and added an NFL-record tying nine more in the playoffs. He holds a helmet-full of NFL records – most career interception return yards (1,590), longest interception return (108 yards), most career interceptions in the post-season (nine) and most times leading the league in interceptions (three). Reed scored 13 career touchdowns on interceptions (seven), fumble returns (two), blocked kicks (3) and punt returns (one). He blocked four punts and also recovered 13 fumbles. No, Ed Reed wasn’t a “trained killer” – not with only 646 tackles in 12 seasons, an average of fewer than 55 tackles per year. But the one scout nailed it – “you’re going to get a lot more than you think you’re getting.” In his final game with the Ravens in 2012, Reed intercepted a pass to help Baltimore defeat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rick Gosselin spent 20 years as the NFL columnist for the Dallas Morning News, including 20 offseasons studying and researching prospects for the NFL draft. He didn’t watch any tape – he was a writer, not a scout – but he talked to the men who did watch tape. He built a network of NFL general managers, head coaches, personnel directors, scouts and assistant coaches from all 32 teams who would share with him their analyses of players. Gosselin used their insights to build his own draft board, Top 100 board and mock drafts. For 10 consecutive years he had the best Top 100 board in the country (2001-10), according to the Huddle Report, and three times he produced the best mock draft.
Wow, I didn’t realize many questioned his tackling abilities in college.
Though Ronnie Lott and Emlen Tunnell might have been more dominant, Reed may have been the best safety ever, in terms of range and ball skills …