‘Junkyard Dog' Ed Reed: New Breed of Safety

Ed Reed, the 2002 first round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens can be called many things. Instinctive. Intuitive. Fiery. Impact Player. Emotional Leader. Playmaker. These are associations that have been used over the course of Ed Reed's blossoming football career playing safety.

But here's one that may have been the most overlooked of them all. Evolutionary. Reed has faced and beaten the odds that have been placed against him probably ever since he started playing football at a high level.

He's not big enough. He's not fast enough. He's not tall enough. He may not fulfill the prototypical outline that you look for in a Strong Safety in the NFL, but there's little doubt that he is a playmaker in the truest sense of the word. ‘The Junkyard Dog' is a shining example of how the safety position is being revolutionized throughout the NFL. 

Instead of the lumbering brute who lays licks on offensive players after they catch the ball, using intimidation as their primary weapon like an extra LB in the box, teams are shifting their focus towards safeties that aren't liabilities in coverage on passing downs and can make plays on the ball BEFORE it reaches the receiver. 

And Ed Reed in as short as one rookie season has established himself as an asset rather than a liability when it comes to covering receivers, making him an every down player. And every-down players are what coaches covet the most; they are literally invaluable. 

After accumulating 5 interceptions over the course of a season where he was late for training camp and had to play catch-up all season long, this upcoming season will be like night and day for this impressive young man. 

In 2002 he played at both safety positions in a secondary that boasted only one starter from the previous season so of course experience was at a premium at that point and time. 

In 2003, Reed has not only a full season of experience under his belt, but he'll also be surrounded by proven players who collectively improve the effectiveness of a young secondary dramatically when compared to last year. 

Although Reed can hardly be considered a big, punishing safety who lays the ‘wood' on opponents, the Ravens decided to move his position from FS to SS for one reason and one reason only; to get him closer to the ball. 

This guy flat-out makes plays. Being called the ‘Ray Lewis' of the secondary is as big of a compliment as you are gonna get, and that's exactly what he's considered as. 

Reed's improvement and the experience he's gained from last season mean nothing but bad news to opposing offenses, especially those who utilize the short passing game and like to match up their receivers/backs/TE's against their opponents safeties and LB's. 

Remember that a year after starting as a true freshman with the Miami Hurricanes, Ed Reed exploded onto the scene and for the next three season and finished his career at Miami as an All-American for the national champion Hurricanes.

He left campus with 289 career tackles along with a school-record 21 interceptions and 54 pass deflections. During his last season, Reed collected 44 tackles with nine interceptions and 19 pass deflections. I don't know about you, but that spells ‘impact' to me. 

This season should be when Reed's talents will shine through. Now that he's gained valuable experience, his instincts will be in full gear after gaining so much from starting his rookie season. Possessing an almost legendary work ethic in his relentless pursuit of domination, Reed will soon be recognized as one of the premier safeties in the NFL if he isn't already thought of as such right now. 

And he's gonna have some more help. The return of perhaps the most dominating linebacker in the game today in MLB Ray Lewis who's also a former Miami Hurricane should make a big difference in itself. 

The addition of pass-rushing demon and #10 overall first round pick OLB Terrell Suggs should give Reed free reign to concentrate on making game-changing interceptions that completely destroy an offensive gameplan.

A more experienced and stable supporting cast with the addition of the ever versatile veteran FS Corey Fuller and the improvement of the always dangerous CB Gary Baxter could potentially make the Ravens secondary a force to be reckoned with. 

How well these players work together will mean the difference between winning and losing, but with a man the caliber of Ed Reed making his big plays should lessen any and all doubts that the Ravens secondary is in good hands.-Pro-

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