The Texas coaching staff hasn’t seen many recruitments
that have gone down to the wire in recent years, but one that did and
thankfully ended up in their favor was that of Cleveland’s Cedric Reed. One of
the top defensive end prospects in the country, Reed chose the Longhorns at the
end of a hotly-contested recruiting battle and with his commitment he gave the
Longhorns a potential impact player along the defensive line.
There’s a lot to like about the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Reed – a starter on the football field and on the basketball court for Class 3A Cleveland since his freshman year. Cleveland head coach Ricky Tullos and his staff has used Reed’s athletic ability to their advantage playing him at tight end, a true defensive end and as a stand-up pass rusher.
The combination of his frame and athletic ability made Reed an attractive option across the country, but he ultimately chose Texas in a close battle with Texas A&M while Alabama, Arkansas, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and many others extended scholarship offers his way.
I’ve had the chance to see film on Reed, watch him at the U.S. Army All-American Combine in January and observe him late in the spring on his high school campus. At the end of the day, Reed’s athletic ability and size makes him a very intriguing prospect.
What I Liked:
When you start to break Reed down, the first thing he does is he passes the eyeball test. He’s every bit of the 6-feet-5-inches he’s list as and when I saw him in May at Cleveland during the evaluation period he checked in at 237 pounds.
You can tell that he’s starting to shed the baby fat and turn his body mass into lean muscle. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in and it shows because he’s as smooth and fluid of an athlete as you’ll find at the defensive end position.
For a pass rusher Reed flashes some of the same ability I saw when I scouted Greg Daniels last fall. Reed has shown that he can run the arc attacking the outside shoulder of the tackle either with his hand on the ground or from a two-point stance. I like that Reed has shown that he’s able to use a rip move when necessary and he’s also pretty solid at being able to use the swim move and be a disciplined rusher who stays in his lane.
He’s got good feet and while he’s not the fastest straight-line runner you’ll see, he displays good balance. I really like the way that he doesn’t run up the field and plays good, sound assignment football. All of this ties in together because he’s good at reading his keys, holding his gap and he’s got enough balance and power to be able to hold his ground on traps and counters and keep things contained.
Alex Okafor is the best defensive Texas has recruited in recent years at being able to diagnose the play and put himself the right position every time to stay in the play, but Reed isn’t too far behind.
On offense is really when he shows off his athletic ability. I think if the staff wanted to they could really use Reed as three-point stance traditional tight end because he’s such a mobile guy who can handle running simple routes at the college level and he’s got really good hands.
The bottom line with Reed for me is you have a big, long and athletic lineman whose body still hasn’t fully developed and gives the staff so much versatility that they can mold him into whatever they want him to be.
Areas for Improvement:
Like many defensive linemen who are raw athletes, Reed has some things on the technical side of his game I’d like to see him work on, but it’s not the run-of-the-mill stuff and there are things specific with Reed I’d like to see him refine.
He needs to be more consistent at not letting linemen get their hands on him. As he does this it will allow his ability to make plays in space shine because he’ll be able to create more separation at the line of scrimmage. The quicker he can disengage the better.
I don’t worry about Reed playing too tall, but I do have a little bit of a concern about his hand placement and where he attacks lineman. You call tell that he understands leverage and I think he can get an even bigger advantage if he really attacks the breast plate and makes better use of his wingspan.
From a physical standpoint I think Reed really needs some work on generating explosive power from his hips. His ball get-off isn’t great and if he’s going to stay at defense end he’s really going to need to get better with his first step. The athleticism is there, but he speed and explosive power is something that could take his game to whole different level if he can make strides in that department.
My Grade for Reed: B+
If you compare Reed to recent Texas defensive ends, I think he projects more as a Tim Crowder type than a Brian Orakpo type. I think he’s a guy long term who will be someone the coaches will love because he’s athletic enough and smart enough to be able to make plays in just about any situation on the field.
The big question with Reed is how much bigger is he going to get and at what point does he stop adding weight? Right now, I picture Reed being around 275 pounds and being able to kick down to tackle when necessary but still be agile enough to play defensive end.
I’m not ready to chalk Reed up as moving to tackle in a few years because I think he plays the run well enough and has enough pass rush presence to be able to play defensive end – especially with the presence of Jackson Jeffcoat and Reggie Wilson likely giving him more opportunities to make plays.
There’s no doubt that Reed is a plus athlete on the defensive line and his versatility makes him a take because you can do so many things with him. If he’s given some time to add weight and work the speed and explosive power part of his game, he could really develop into a game changer.