Eric Reid: LSU Safety a Trade-Up Option for the Patriots in 2013

Eric Reid LSU Safety

LSU safety Eric Reid will be in high demand next April during the 2013 NFL Draft. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Staff Writer: Matthew Jones

The safety position is currently undergoing a re-evaluation in the NFL. In-the-box defenders geared towards defending the run are diminishing in value, while athletic, coverage-oriented safeties are in high demand.

The supply of safeties who are big enough to match up against modern tight ends as well as athletic enough to cover quick slot receivers lags severely behind the demand, forcing teams to invest heavily in the position; Tampa Bay used the seventh-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft in order to ensure that they landed Alabama safety Mark Barron this past April.

Will LSU safety Eric Reid have a similar rise in the 2013 NFL Draft?

Aside from Patrick Chung, who missed eight games last year due to injury, the New England Patriots lacked reliable players at the position; New England jettisoned Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders, Brandon McGowan, and Jarrad Page before the season and were unable to locate suitable replacement players.

Consequently, the Patriots ranked 31st in the league in passing yards allowed; blown assignments and missed tackles were commonplace in New England’s secondary. James Ihedigbo, a castoff from the New York Jets, saw the field for 67.7% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps; Josh Barrett, Sergio Brown, Nathan Jones, Matthew Slater, and Ross Ventrone are among the other players who saw action but failed to inspire confidence as potential long-term solutions.

New England attempted to address the position this offseason by signing Steve Gregory in free agency and drafting Illinois safety Tavon Wilson (second round) and Ohio State safety Nate Ebner (sixth round) but could still be in the market for a top safety option next year; one player who could draw interest from the club is Louisiana State free safety Eric Reid, although New England would likely have to trade up in the first round in order to select him.

Eric Reid was regarded as one of the premier safety prospects in his recruiting class. Reid appeared in all 13 of Louisiana State’s games as a freshman in 2010 and started at safety for the team’s final three games, contributing on special teams as well and finishing the season with 32 tackles and two interceptions.

As a sophomore last season, Reid assumed the starting free safety role opposite 2012 third-round pick Brandon Taylor, playing in 12 of Louisiana State’s 13 games (missed the Arkansas game with injury). Reid’s 65 tackles ranked third on the team and he added two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and two pass breakups en route to being named a member of the All-SEC second team by the Associated Press.

Reid is expected to strongly consider foregoing his senior season in order to enter the 2013 NFL Draft, where he is projected to compete with Southern California safety T.J. McDonald for the top safety spot. McDonald is the more athletic of the two prospects but Reid’s physical tools, his aggressive play, his well-rounded skillset, and his SEC pedigree will likely earn him a spot high in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft if he performs up to expectations as a junior this season.

Reid makes a strong first impression with his outstanding size (6’2” and 210 pounds) and length; by comparison, Barron measured in at 6’1” and 213 pounds at the scouting combine in February.

Strong safety Brandon Taylor traditionally played in the box in Louisiana State’s defense last season while Reid handled center-field responsibilities, but Reid was additionally asked to perform in the box or in coverage on tight ends and inside wide receivers as well. Reid’s size makes him a more logical fit for coverage responsibilities on a tight end – Reid was able to rip the ball away from Alabama tight end Michael Williams in midair during the Tigers’ first meeting with Crimson Tide last season in order to prevent what would have been a completion taking Alabama to the one-yard line.

Reid’s long arms and physicality should allow him to press wide receivers effectively at the line of scrimmage in the pros, although at LSU he was often lined up deep in the secondary playing single-high coverage. Like Barron last year, Reid is not expected to post a blazing time in the 40-yard dash – a time between 4.55 and 4.6 seconds seems reasonable – but his instincts allow him to make plays on the ball.

Reid is also a quality run defender. Because of his size, he is a forceful hitter who explodes into ballcarriers and can separate runners from the ball (see the fumble he forced against Alabama RB Trent Richardson in the first quarter of their regular-season matchup.) Reid’s tackling technique is sound; he possesses fundamental tackling skills although he does go for the knockout blow at times.

Reid is aggressive in pursuit of the ball; his instincts allow him to locate the ballcarrier quickly and despite his lack of elite top-end speed, he closes on the ball in a hurry. The Tigers have utilized Reid as an in-the-box defender with some regularity, which is a role he will likely be asked to perform consistently in the NFL due to his size; some teams may evaluate Reid as a strong safety prospect rather than a free safety if they are concerned about his lack of timed speed.

Room for improvement remains in regards to Reid’s run defense; he must remember to practice proper tackling technique more consistently and occasionally gets overaggressive and takes a narrow angle to the ball, causing him to miss a tackle.

Last season cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu received most of the attention in Louisiana State’s defensive backfield, but Reid projects as a likely first-round pick should he declare for the 2013 NFL Draft and could very well be selected ahead of Mathieu. Reid may not dazzle NFL scouts with his straight-line speed but he is very much on the radar because of his size, his overall athleticism, his instincts, and his aggressiveness.

Reid’s diverse skill-set allows him to function as a single-high safety in deep zone coverage, as an in-the-box run defender, and in man coverage on tight ends or inside wide receivers; safety is now a premium position in the NFL as teams are looking for well-rounded players who can defend the influx of young, athletic tight ends, and Reid’s skillset will appeal to every team in the league.

New England could very well be interested in adding a top safety such as Eric Reid even after signing Steve Gregory to a three-year deal in free agency and drafting Tavon Wilson in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but the Patriots may be forced to trade ahead of a handful of other teams in order to secure Reid’s services.

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8 Responses to “Eric Reid: LSU Safety a Trade-Up Option for the Patriots in 2013”

  1. TD says:

    Any GM would have to have their head examined for giving/trading down a first rounder for a backup QB, especially Hoyer who was undrafted and has not started a game yet.

    Unless a person has been around Mallett as a part of the Pat’s staff how do you know what he has to offer except through media reports? He has less history than Hoyer.

    • DWE2012 says:

      ONCE AGAIN, nobody said Hoyer alone would garner a 1st OR 2nd rounder, but coupled with another decent player attached in the deal and even another add-in or even a lower pick attached with TWO player’s(one being HOYER), it could garner a decent (even if it’s a lower rounded) second pick that we could then feasably use to re-arrange & move up in the need to solidify the backfiled with a guy like Lester or Reid…….

      Suppose we received a MID-3rd for a pgk of HOYER, Edelman & Arrington…….

      We have an extra QB outright in many opinions.
      Edelman respectively cannot garner his own spot a solidified one that is.
      Arrington’s INT’s we give me’s by other player’s tips & I personally believe all 3 respectively are in the way of another title before TB12 retires soon enough.
      3 player’s NOT NEEDED help’s garner an extra pick-S.I.M.P.L.E..

      even if we got a decent third for them, that mean’s we could use our secong and first and move up in the first, miss the second and have 2 third’s…….
      Just saying EXAMPLE.

      We have merely round 1,2,3,4 and a later 7th next season. If the Pat’s can move Hoyer NOW(before the trade deadline) and grab another to work with, it gives the ability of decision regarding moving up ourselves for a much needed play-maker in the backfiled which is respectively what we are missing currently. Gregory is a quick fix hopefull plug-in player and has issues covering. WE NEED A SOLID BACKFILED GUY, NOT AN EXTRA QB.
      So what ever a combo pkg of HOyer and another can get for a pick will go a long, long way in the ability of MOVING UP NEXT DRAFT CLASS.

      Regardless of what the end result is and what combo package they can work out, it’s that much closer to moving up next season for a guy like Lester or Reid, preferably for me LESTER.

      Again, no one ever said Hoyer would garner a 1st or 2nd alone or at all. But packaging him with 1 other player and our late rounder for good measure…….. I do it alll day long if I am the Pat’s or if I’m either the Cardinals, K.C. Cheif’s or the Raider’s.

      • TD says:

        Sounds S.I.M.P.L.E, but why would BB want to send 2 of the most versatile players like Arrington & Edelman for future picks???

        You and others may think they are expendable because they are not Revis & Hester, but they have crazy value for short money on this team. Sending them out the door means you have to replace their value and I don’t see that happening with future draft picks.

        As far as the backup QB spot(s); BB got by on gambling that they could get away with 1 backup to Brady a few years ago, but if something were to happen to Brady, it would not be a good situation to just have Mallett there.

        Much like Welker, I suspect BB “squeezes” as much value out of Hoyer this year and he either re-signs or off he goes to free agent land.

        • DWE2012 says:

          You call a guy versitle that can’t even garner his own spot on the field?????????????
          He was used a bit all over simply because there A/. wasn’t anyone for those spots & B/. becuase he again can’t even garner a spot of his own.
          If he was any good at ANYTHING, he’d have some type of spot or another solidified now wouldn’t he?!?!?!?!?!?

          WOW, some speed on kick returns-Woo-Hoo!!!!!

          Ever take into consideration that there is an entire team on the field making room for him?????????
          So what’s his real Value to squeeze??????
          & Arrington, So overrated. Always has been and no doubtfully always will be(at least in N.E.)

          Did he do ANYTHING to create those handfull of turn overs????NO
          He merely caught ball’s OTHER PLAYER’s BATTED AWAY…….That’s It!!!
          So what’s his Value to be Squeezed anyway????

          Keep Drinking the Kool-Aid on these two TD.

          And if Hoyer is just an undrafted backup and unproven at that(WHICH BY THE WAY WE ALL AGREE UPON), Then why the heck do you wan’t to keep keeping him and keep on paying him even more and more of a pay scale if he’s so nothing according to you?

          Mallet, Who said he would be left alone a the sole backup 2 TB12 either??????

          Keep drinking that “GREY AREA” Kool-Aid TD, and the NYC Giant’s will continue to keep embarressing the Pat’s everytime, WHY? Because they don’t keep player’s like J. Eddy and Arrington and put em on pedestles they don’t belong on!!!

          Gale Eugene Sayers….You Suck. Why don’t you take some advice and training from “THE” J. Eddy baby. You just might learn something!!!
          Hey Barry Sander’s, Screw the house you built and check out the condo that KYLE ARRINGTON LIVES IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Woo-Hoo.

          These are two consistent reason’s why The NYC Giant’s Embarressed our team twice, and will do it again a thrid time.

  2. DWE2012 says:

    I personally let go of Hoyer & Edelman both in a deal in addition to including as many other “whatever” players as possable to sweeten it up for the team we can get as far up as possable with in order to move up and get F/S Robert Lester.
    Where is Tyler Bray Tenn. going…?
    Matt Barkley USC…?
    Landry Jones O-State…..?

    Thinking Myself quickly: K.C. Cheifs, Raider’s, Cardinal’s????
    These are clearly teams in NEED of a QB.

    The Patriots need to UNLOAD Hoyer A.S.A.P. If they wait much longer his value & need will drop the close the 2013 Draft get’s.
    I look NOW and unload Hoyer A.S.A.P./specifically, BEFORE the trade deadline and get the best 2013 draft pick possable and intend to use it for snagging Robert Lester. *Although Reid is also 2nd on the (S) lift for me.

    • Ken W says:

      No team is going to give the Pats a 1st round pick for Hoyer and a few other backups, not even a 2nd. Way to soon to be looking at what next years draft will look like. Im fine with moving Hoyer because I like Mallett has to offer but you have to be a little realistic.

      • DWE2012 says:

        The leeway grabbing BOTH an extra pick “Coupled” with say our own 1st rounder, in addition to the cap space$$$$ Hoyer and a few other’s would garner that we would save is enough for us to move up and grab a very much needed Robert Lester and SOLIDIFY our backfield.

        Never said Hoyer(who is respectively unproven-yet known to be very smart and good), would go for a solid 1st or 2nd himself. But if done right & with good timing, The combo of Hoyer, Edelman and Arrington could IMO garner a nice pick for one of the suggested 3 teams or others that we all know still need a steady QB.

    • Jimmy says:

      A combo of Chung (if he stays) and Lester would be pretty fantastic. Chung is a solid tackler, and Lester can play coverage. We would have a great group of safeties with these guys. I am worried about Tavon Wilson playing FS next year. I know we got Gregory, but my Chargers fan friend says he can’t cover at all. I agree on getting rid of hoyer. Mallet will take over 2nd string, and we get a draft pick.

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