Many thought that Cedric Reed would embark for a career in the NFL after he led the Big Twelve Conference in forced fumbles (five) and placed third in the league with ten sacks while finishing fourth with 16.5 stops-for-loss in 2013. He also made 77 tackles, but felt that he would benefit from another season in Austin. He arrived on campus as a 240-pound freshman, but 30 pounds later, he has become an impressive and intimidating figure who has the athleticism to stand up as a rush end, but can also explode off the snap from a "three"-point stance.
As a senior, the strong-side defensive end appeared in twelve games, teaming with All-American defensive tackle Malcom Brown on the strong-side of the line to combine for 145 tackles, 11.0 sacks, 25.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 16 QB pressures, with Reed coming up with 73 of those hits, tying for third on the squad with 5.5 sacks and posting ten stops-for-loss to go with eight QB hurries. He also caused a fumble that set up a Texas touchdown drive.
But even with those figures scouts were concerned that Reed looked sluggish at times, some even calling his season a disappointment. After the season, Reed went for a check-up and it turned out that his balky knee had a torn meniscus that he played on throughout the season with it. He underwent surgery in early January, 2015 and was unable to play in any all-star games and was a non-participant in agility tests at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, causing his preseason draft stock of being a potential first rounder seeing that drop to the mid rounds.
When healthy, attacking the backfield is what Reed does best, but he needs to be aware of his pad level. He is an active tackler who has a good motor and works to get around the football and is consistently physical with the ability to flash with leverage. He brings his hands up quickly when taking on blockers and holds his ground firmly.
In 2014, Reed showed explosion off the ball, but was inconsistent. He had efficient in-line quickness, but he spent too much time trying to finesse and fake out defenders rather than escape or initiate contact. Normally, he has good agility to redirect, but with the knee bothering him, he had to use his hands more often to shed blockers rather than simply run over them like he did as a junior.
Last season, Reed showed that he could be a good edge rusher with the acceleration needed to zero in on the passer. He has the up field speed and can bend the corner to beat the offensive tackle, using an assortment of moves to counter back inside if the blocker over-plays him outside, but with the injury now factoring in, he will have to play a “wait and see” game in regards to any chance to work out for teams prior to draft day.
When healthy, Reed showed he has the athleticism needed to change direction well and has the lateral range to give a good chase in backside pursuit. He demonstrates good knee bend and loose hips to redirect. When he stays low in his pads, he can generate leverage and keep his balance on the move. He shows a good flow to the ball working down the line and has made very good strides in improving his footwork, but will still take a wide angle to the quarterback at times.
Reed is efficient at using his arms in defeating reach blocks, but must develop more consistency with his hand thrust to jolt offensive linemen coming out of their stance. He is capable of playing with leverage and has good strength, but needs to develop better hand placement to keep blockers off his body. He needs to stay lower in his pads to get through trash, but when he gets too erect in his stance, blockers can get underneath him and attack his legs.
Reed has shown marked improvement utilizing pass rush moves (better rip, swim and club moves) since moving into the lineup on the strong-side in 2013. He lacks the lower body thickness to split double teams, but possesses the change of direction flexibility to drop his weight and redirect when the gaps are plugged.
Reed relies on quickness more than brute strength to penetrate inside. He plays with good leverage and strength, but they will be negated when he fails to use his arms to combat blocks. He is determined coming off the snap and until he improves his hand technique, he can compensate with explosiveness off the snap to get good penetration and disrupt the play.
When he drops his weight and plays with leverage, he can prevent the blockers from washing him out when working in-line. His low center of gravity lets him get into the rush lane and push back the lead blocker to clog the holes. You can see on film that he has a good feel for blocking schemes.
Reed has developed a good feel for blocking schemes. He is quick to find the ball in a crowd and is alert to offensive adjustments at the pre-snap. He can still be fooled a bit by play action or misdirection, but he generally has a natural feel for the flow of the ball. He is much more effective shooting the gaps in passing situations, especially when given a clear lane, but even though he needs to improve his hand usage working in-line, he has the leverage and body control to consistently make plays vs. the run.
Cedric Reed NFL Scouting Combine measurables
33 3/8-inch arm length
9 3/4-inch hands
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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