Position: Free Safety
School: Stanford (2015-2017)
40-Yd Dash: 4.40 sec
Vertical Leap: 36.5″
Horizontal Jump: 10’8″
3 Cone Drill: 6.65 sec
20-Yd Dash: 4.15 sec
Bench Press: 16 reps
Justin Reid had a standout junior season, racking up 94 tackles, 6.5 for a loss of yards, 5 interceptions, and 6 passes broken up before declaring for the 2018 NFL draft. Many are familiar with his brother Eric Reid, and talent clearly runs in this family.
His athleticism is the first thing that stands out to me. It’s no surprise the coaches frequently deployed him at nickel cornerback in his senior season. He has the potential to cover receivers from the slot, though there were occasionally mixed results when he did at Stanford.
When people talk about “speed,” “explosiveness,” and “athleticism,” they can sometimes sound interchangeable, but they are distinct. Reid checks all the boxes. Reid’s 4.40 sec 40-yard dash, as well as his 2.57 sec 20-yard & 1.52 sec 10-yd, reflect his blazing speed in a straight line. His 36.5″ vertical leap and 10’8″ horizontal jump both showed off his explosiveness. When combined with his consistently quick reaction time, this can translate to quickness off the snap, for example. His elite 6.65 sec 3 cone drill time and his excellent 4.15 sec 20-yard shuttle demonstrated his athleticism, which involves a number of related traits. These drills go beyond speed, they show burst, acceleration, lateral quickness, and an ability to stop on a dime.
So Reid is fast enough for the NFL, but is he tough enough? His tape suggests he is. His 16 reps of 225 lbs matched Morgan Burnett’s performance, and Burnett has developed into an elite run-defending safety. Reid shows every indication of being a versatile safety who can thrive in the box. This requires a safety who can get physical, as well as one who can cover tight ends, running backs, or even slot receivers if needed.
Reid is as well-rounded a prospect as you’ll find. His impressive workouts at the Combine are supported by prolific production in college. However, he did show deficiencies in coverage against faster receivers from the slot. He should be able to develop his cover skills, but it will take time.
His other main criticisms are fairly common for safeties coming out of college. Sometimes he doesn’t take good angles to the ball carrier, and sometimes he gets overzealous with his tackling. These are kinks that can be ironed out, but this will also take time. Hopefully the recent departure of former safeties coach Darren Perry doesn’t delay his development.
Fit With Packers
The Packers have a Pro Bowl caliber free safety in HaHa Clinton-Dix and a glut of talented strong safeties, all of whom are versatile players, but there’s still room for an early safety pick. Morgan Burnett and HaHa Clinton-Dix are both facing expiring contracts, and there’s no guarantee either of them stays with the Packers. Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice have both showed promise as strong safeties, though Jones spent substantial snaps at linebacker.
If Reid landed with the Packers, then I think the Packers would prioritize keeping Burnett over Clinton-Dix. Burnett is the best nickel cornerback on the Packers, and he provides valuable depth all over the defense. Reid would likely succeed Clinton-Dix in that scenario, and he could eventually prove to be an upgrade.
Reid might be drafted in the first round, but there’s a decent chance he falls to the second round. If he’s still available at 45th overall, then the Packers will almost undoubtedly use their second round pick on him.
Here are some highlights from Justin Reid at Stanford: