This weekend Nick Reid will watch the NFL draft from Atlanta, GA where he will be visiting family. The Derby, KS product has been told he’ll be a second day selection, if he’s selected at all. After not being invited to the NFL combine, there’s a good chance the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year might not even be drafted. That potential scenario hasn’t fazed Reid though. He’s just focused on getting a chance somewhere and then making the most of it.
“(I'm hearing) late rounds on the second day or (I could be) a priority free agent,” Reid said of his draft stock entering the weekend. “It would be a wonderful thing to get drafted. I mean that's every football player's dream. To be a signed free agent or just to sign with anybody is really what I want to do to get my foot in the door with the program and show them what I can do.”
Reid didn’t get the chance to show scouts what he could do at the NFL combine – something that surprised and disappointed both he and his agent, Joe Linta, of JL Sports. Just because he wasn’t invited to the NFL’s primary pre-draft talent test doesn’t mean Reid is entirely off the NFL’s radar though. Linta and Reid are confident that the former KU linebacker will get a chance somewhere and once he does, look out.
"Once you get the guy in you're going to have a really, really tough time getting rid of him,” Linta predicted. “He's got the heart of a lion. He plays hard all the time. He's got a motor and he's just a worker. He's the kind of guy you want on your team – a community guy and all those kinds of good things that are important."
Reid’s work ethic, toughness, collegiate track record and character should be enough to open the door with at least one NFL team even if his size and speed won’t make any NFL scouts salivate. As Reid waits to see which direction the draft will point his future he has been reminding himself of the story of another linebacker from a Big 12 school that didn’t hear his named called on day one of the draft back in 1996. One of Reid’s heroes is a former Texas Tech linebacker who didn’t have the prototypical NFL linebacker size or hype heading into draft day, but 10 years and 6 pro bowls later is doing just fine: Zach Thomas of the Miami Dolphins. Reid is quick to point out that Thomas’ hard work and competitiveness helped him beat the odds and become a fixture in the Miami Dolphins defense. Now KU’s #2 all-time tackler hopes to do the same. Reid says his competitive drive is not only his best attribute, but also something that might help him realize his dream.
"I'm a competitor and I hate to lose. I think that's one of my biggest strengths. I'm going to do whatever I have to do in order to make the play or win the game. No matter where I go, that's the attitude I'm going to carry with me. That's the attitude I've basically carried with me my whole life. I'm a great competitor and I want to win."
At Kansas that meant winning on Saturdays and helping give Jayhawk football fans their first bowl victory since 1995. Now Reid wants to win a roster spot and play for pay on Sundays next fall. Some say the odds are stacked against him, but then again not many thought this former Derby High quarterback would one day be the Big 12 coaches pick for Defensive Player of the Year either. Reid surpassed most everyone’s expectations at KU, now he’s eager to do it all over again in the NFL.