The Dallas Cowboys have a need at safety and appear to be interested in some of the best prospects available in this year's draft class. Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid and Jonathan Cyrprien all have been reported as pre-draft visitors. We've already produced a scouting report on Vaccaro, so let's move down the line and take a closer look at Eric Reid.
At 6'1" and 213 pounds, Reid has great size for the safety position. He's a long and lean prospect, but Reid possesses a great physical build and packs a lot of muscle into his frame. Reid makes a lot of sense for the Cowboys because he is an all-around safety that is well-rounded against the pass and the run. His athleticism allows him to make a lot of plays and his closing speed is very good. On tape, he runs well and looks fast, but he also tested well in his combine drills when he ran a 4.53 40 yard dash and had a 40.5 inch vertical jump.
With that type of speed and quickness, Reid can roam the deep half of the secondary and attack downhill. Reid has plenty of experience playing deep, which is something many are concerned about with Kenny Vaccaro. He has more experience playing deep and covering a lot of ground, so he wouldn't have to make a lot of adjustments learning our defense.
Reid is extremely physical and has attempted to pattern his game after former LSU safety LaRon Landry. He attacks downhill and flies around the field. Laying the wood and dropping his shoulder won't be a problem for Reid on the next level because he loves to dish out some punishment. He can tackle and is very strong against the run.
Good safeties need to cover the athletic tight ends in the NFL and Reid has the ability to do that. His ball skills are good, but they aren't great. Reid does capitalize on mistakes and intercepts the football. He can jump with the best of them and is very good at deflecting passes. He also has the instincts and aggressiveness to make undercuts and plays on the football before the receiver can.
The Cowboys have shown in the past that they like interchangeable safeties and Reid has qualities that could allow him to play either role. He's athletic enough and has the range to play free safety, but he also has the physicality and thumping ability to play strong safety. Reid will also fit under Jason Garrett's criteria for being a "RKG".
This is a very solid safety prospect and doesn't have a lot of flaws in his game. Reid can get overaggressive and take a lot of gambles, especially because of his love of jumping routes and undercutting receivers and tight ends. Reid's biggest flaw is that he will take bad angles and allow a big play. This is more of a technique issue and that can be cleaned up with study in the film room and good coaching.
Reid is a very good athlete that is quick and can cover a lot of ground, but his recovery speed has been an issue for him. If he is out of position, Reid won't be able to help out a teammate or catch up to a player who has gotten a step on him. He is also a little stiff in man coverage and can get too high in his stance.
If Reid can fine tune his angles and decision making, he has all of the tools to become a great safety in the NFL. I've been struggling on where to rank Reid on my big board. I still believe he is a first-round talent and his experience in the SEC combined with his size and skill set make him a great fit for the Cowboys.
If the Cowboys miss out on Vaccaro, then Reid could be an option for them at 18, but is Reid worth taking that high? Reid has definitely improved his draft stock since the combine and he continues to rise. He may not fall out of the first round at all, but it's highly doubtful he is going to be available for us when we go on the clock in the second round.
It all comes down to how much the Cowboys really like him. If they believe he can grow into a Pro Bowl type of safety, then they should take the chance on him at 18. If they feel he won't be able to play at a very high level, then they should probably use that pick elsewhere.
Ultimate Eric Reid Highlights (via TheVikingsworld2011)