S Eric Reid, LSU
Drafted: First Round, No. 18
Overall, it was smart move by the 49ers to move up in the first round to take Reid with their first pick. But the reason for a C+ grade is because the draft was loaded with really good safeties, some of whom would have been available, like Matt Elam from Florida or John Cyprien from Florida International, had the 49ers stayed put in the first round. But who can argue with Baalke trading up to draft Reid who is a big and physical safety, much like Goldson. This was the team’s biggest need and they filled it with a player who will likely be starting in Week 1.
STRENGTHS – Few safeties possess Reid’s athleticism to be impact players in coverage and run support. Flashes quickness coming up field in run support, when Eric stays over feet and keeps his knees bent he can make violent hits while wrapping up with good technique. Reid has sideline range against the run, can avoid contact/blockers on the move and has a good closing burst to finish plays. He does a good job of reading the QB/Pass from deep alignment, closes fast on passes in front of him and is willing to make hard hit right after the catch. From approx. 10 yards off the LOS he flashes excellent read of quick hitting pass to receiver, closes explosively and makes violent hit right after the catch. He has experience covering receivers and shows the hips and speed to stay with him off the LOS and across the field on “drag” route.
WEAKNESSES – Reid is an elite talent, but does not play up to his talent consistently. While he flashes coming up the field fast in run support, at times he seems content to sit back and let teammates make the play. He is not a consistently good tackler – Too often he either stops feet and launches himself to make hard hit and ends up missing or he stops feet and waits for ball carrier to come to him and can be juked or trampled too easily. When lined up in deep coverage he has a tendency to go for the hit when he closes on receiver rather than trying to break-up pass.
SUMMARY – A junior who came out early for the 2013 NFL Draft, Reid definitely has first round physical talent, but his on field play is more of a second/third round player. At over 6’1, Reid’s quick feet, loose hips and playing speed enable him to be effective covering receivers in man coverage and flashes the ability to reach in front of receiver to break up pass. When he is aggressive coming up the field on plays in front of him, stays over his feet, under control and uses proper technique he can be a strong, physical wrap-up tackler. He has experience making big plays on special teams coverage units and should be able to immediately contribute on them while he develops as a safety. Overall, Reid is a gifted safety who has the talent to not only be a versatile play-maker in the NFL, but would warrant a first round pick if he had been consistent at LSU. Some team will likely draft him in the second round because of his potential to become the player he has the physical talent to be. I think he will become a productive starting safety, but will always struggle with inconsistent tackling.
Click here to see the 49ers 2013 draft grades for rounds 1-5.