Ravens excited about Jah Reid

Jah Reid had to conquer his weight before he could topple opponents at the line of scrimmage. The Baltimore Ravens' newly-minted third-round draft pick weighed as much as 375 pounds before he signed with the University of Central Florida. Through an improved diet and a rigorous workout regimen, the 6-foot-7 offensive tackle got down to 325 pounds and emerged as an All-Conference USA blocker.

"Yeah, I was kind of heavy in high school so the coaches told me to lose weight," Reid said during a telephone interview with the Ravens Insider. "When I came in as a freshman, it took me about a year to lose it. I ate much healthier. I stopped eating bread. I paid the price. I was willing to do whatever I had to do to play football." Now that Reid is in the NFL, he wants to take care of his mother.

A single mother, Lucinda Stratton raised him by herself in Haines City, Fla. "I want to make her life as easy as possible," said Reid, whose first name means God in Jamaican. "She's worked very hard to give me whatever I needed. I want to let her retire and watch me play football. My middle name is Eric. My dad is Jamaican." A bit of an unknown out of high school when he was recruited by Connecticut and Middle Tennessee State before staying close to home and signing with UCF, Reid emerged as a hot commodity in scouting circles.

The Ravens traded up five spots to select Reid with the 85th overall pick, sending their third-round pick, 90th overall, and their sixth-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles were one of the teams that had conducted a private workout for Reid along with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns. He visited the Ravens, New York Jets and the New Orleans Saints.

"Originally, I was just going to be happy to get drafted," Reid said. "I didn't want to set myself up to be disappointed. I started hearing good things about possibly being a second-day pick. It's awesome. I'm very happy that the Ravens picked me. I was so grateful they traded up to get me. That means a lot."

Reid first caught the attention of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome at the East-West Shrine all-star game.

"That was when a lot of NFL people had a chance to see him and interact with him," said Derrick Fox, Reid's agent. "I saw him when he was a junior and watched how he handled himself. He was a gentleman with a big presence, a yes sir, no sir guy. He has great character."

Reid was a two-time all-conference selection. It cemented his status when he registered a 9-3 broad jump at the NFL scouting combine.

"A lot of scouts started texting me after that jump," Fox said. "That broad jump was exceptional. Scouts came up to me and told me that Jah really helped himself. It all goes back to the film. I sent that Georgia game to every personnel director."

Central Florida defeated Georgia in the Liberty Bowl, and Reid had a big game blocking eventual outside linebacker Justin Houston, who went in the third round last week to the Kansas City Chiefs.

"That was a big game for me," Reid said. "I thought I played pretty good." As a junior, Reid also played against the University of Texas and Ravens outside linebacker Sergio Kindle.

"He was huge, all muscle, running around like he was crazy," Reid said of Kindle, a second-round draft pick last year who missed his entire rookie season with a fractured skull. "It gives you confidence to play against guys like that."

The Ravens plan to have Reid compete immediately for the starting right offensive tackle job. It's a big statement of confidence in him. "Of course, I want to win that starting spot," Reid said. "I'm grateful that they drafted me and I want to prove my worth. I want to come in and show how valuable I am. I know I have to put my nose to the grindstone and get ready to work.

"My mentality is I want to win. My job is to beat the guy in front of me and impose my will and help my team win. You've got to protect the quarterback. The team is trusting you to do that." At this point, the Ravens plan to leave Michael Oher at left tackle. And they are going to give Reid a big opportunity on the right side.

He started the last 33 games of his career. As a senior, the Knights won 11 games as three players rushed for at least 10 touchdowns.

"He's young, he's a little bit developmental, but I think he's going to develop fast," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Reid. "This is a guy we all liked. He's big, he can bend. He's very physical and he's on the upswing. He'll be competing for the right tackle spot right out of the gates, and we'll see where it goes. He's kind of mean, he's a tough, hard-nosed player."

Reid runs the 40-yard dash in 5.29 seconds and has posted a 29-inch vertical leap and a 7.59 three-cone drill. He bench presses 225 pounds 23 times.

"I'm kind of a gym rat," Reid said. "I play a lot of racquetball. I'm working on being more balanced in my pass protection and getting more comfortable in my stance. I feel like I've got room for improvement. I've got pretty good upper body strength.

During his visit, Reid had a hunch that the Ravens might pick him as he huddled with offensive line coach Andy Moeller, Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and Newsome.

"I loved my visit," Reid said. "It's such a positive place to be. When I left, I wanted to come right back. I had a good feeling about the Ravens. It's a great opportunity to compete. I couldn't ask for a better situation. I'm eager to earn a spot."

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