This past week, the San Francisco 49ers signed 1st round pick (18th overall) Eric Reid to a four-year deal.
Not only is Reid preparing for his first NFL training camp, but the former All-American at LSU will fill the void of hard-hitting All-Pro Dashon Goldson. Although Reid has yet to play a single down in the NFL, he has the potential to become a shutdown safety.
Standing at 6’1” and weighing 214lbs, Reid ran a 4.53 40-yard dash and has a 40-inch vertical. For starters, Reid possesses the physical tools to play man and defend deep coverage. That being said, Reid, likely any other rookie, will have a steep learning curve. He will get burned by veteran receivers, and he will overplay some routes; nonetheless, his developed physical strength, speed, and intelligence are still his best assets.
Like Goldson, if a bigger receiver or tightend comes down the middle of the field, Reid will have no hesitation to lay a licking on him.
Intelligent and well-balanced
At first glance, Reid may not look that intimidating, however, he is a heavy-hitter, plays aggressively, and is an intelligent player. Reid was on the SEC Academic Honor Roll, and he has the intelligence to master the playbook and read and react in zone coverage.
He is an every-down safety, capable of providing more pressure on run defense and sitting back and lurking on passes. If he’s close to the receiver, Reid will make a play for the ball, and he also will not miss too many tackles.
A lot of young safeties in the league possess some but not all the necessary skills. Some can run toe-to-toe with any receiver but cannot tackle, and others have all the strength to tackle but no speed to get anywhere near the receiver. Reid has a great balance of size and speed.
Just do your job
Reid is not the second coming of Jesus Christ, and he does not have to be. The 49ers have one of the best front sevens in the NFL and veteran leadership in the secondary with Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers, and Nnamdi Asomugha.
As long as he does not surrender the big and/or bone-headed plays, Reid will definitely be capable of filling in for Goldson, and through time, he can become a shutdown safety and an All-Pro.