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Justin Reid possesses all the qualities of a modern NFL safety

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Brother of former San Francisco 49ers (and currently suspiciously unemployed) safety Eric Reid, Stanford’s Justin Reid is one of a plethora of versatile safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft. After being a lesser contributor for the Cardinal during his first two seasons, he stormed onto team’s radars in 2017: His 6.5 tackles for loss and five interceptions encapsulate the multitude of ways he can impact a game.

Reid is exactly what a modern safety should be. Able to play on the edge and around the line of scrimmage, as well as cover the slot or single-high, Reid can impact the game at every level of a defense.

Man Coverage

The majority of Reid’s man coverage snaps came out of the slot. Up at the line of scrimmage or playing off, Reid displayed patience in waiting for the wide receiver to get into his route before opening up his hips and running with his man.

Reid can get caught flat-footed at the top of routes at times, forcing him to reach out and grab, something that will be called consistently in the NFL.

Here, Reid is late but recovers with good burst:

Zone Coverage

Reid was a versatile zone defender, lining up as the single-high safety in man-free, or covering the flats. As a single-high safety, Reid does a terrific job reading and reacting to the quarterback’s eyes.

Here, he shades over to where the quarterback is looking and forces a check-down:

Reid reacts to the football extremely quickly and breaks on it with good anticipation. (Watch him break on it here, only for his teammate to get to it first.)

Reid does a great job of subtly adjusting his positioning within a zone to takeaway options, although here it ends up with a big play deep downfield:


It was touched on regarding Reid’s abilities as a single-high safety, but he repeatedly displayed good instincts in reading the quarterback and reacting prior to the throw.

Again, single-high, Reid reads Josh Rosen’s eyes and comes underneath. Rosen misses the throw, but that’s in part because he had to push it deeper than intended, otherwise Reid would’ve been able to undercut it.

Athletic Ability

Reid has good closing speed, both coming down to help after the catch, or prior to the pass. Reid’s ability to crash into the box and clean up is a great trait for any safety to have.

Reid is fluid in turning to run with a receiver in man coverage, or in moving to get into his zone after the snap.

Here, Reid leaves the frame after a few seconds, but he dips, turns and runs really well:

Reid has the short area quickness to be an effective blitzer from the slot, and has the strength to win against offensive linemen.


Reid is able to disengage against receivers with ease at the second level. He consistently gets off blocks and gets himself into a position to make the tackle.

Reid is relentless in pursuit and not for nothing, takes an almost perfect angle to beeline to the running back and make a touchdown-saving tackle here:

Versus Run

As an edge defender, Reid is strong enough to set and hold up on the outside. He is a disciplined run defender and won’t give up the outside trying to dart inside and make a flash play.

Reid controls the receiver here almost like a two-gapping defensive lineman, giving the running back the outside only to disengage and make the tackle:

Reid’s a willing, physical run defender and would be a marvelous box safety in any scheme.

Overall, Reid displays all the qualities of a modern safety, as well as a strong safety in the Seattle Seahawks’ system. Able to defend the run inside and out, cover the slot, the flats or playing single-high, Reid will offer a team versatility and interchangeability with their free safety.