Jordan Reed is a part of the large number of receiving hybrid tight ends in this year’s draft. The NFL is following college football’s lead towards a more spread oriented attack that has raised the demand for number two tight ends and colleges are providing the supply. Reed began his career at Florida as a dual threat quarterback recruit (No. 10 on Rivals) and even started his freshman year in Florida’s Outback Bowl victory over Penn State.
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The Florida coaches rave about Reed’s work ethic and willingness to help the team, even after the conversion to tight end from quarterback. He progressed year after year as a pass catcher and blocker to the point where he was a team leader his senior season. His strong intangibles are even supported statistically when you review his production in close games. In these games, he excelled and was asked by coaches to be the primary receiving option.
It’s clear on film that Reed was the go to guy in Florida’s offense as a junior. Reed was able to consistently separate from linebackers with a combination of speed in and out of his cuts. Reed stretched the seam at times and set up linebackers with a bevy of moves that don’t tip off his routes. One route he excelled at in particular is the five yard hitch in the slot in front of linebackers where Reed would work back to the ball to change the tackling angle for covering linebackers and effectively elude. After the missed tackle he turned north and south. Once the ball was in his Reed’s hands, he can cut on a dime and shows a runningback’s vision. This provided an opportunity to show case his acceleration to consistently gain yards after catch. With the ball in the air, Reed is almost acrobatic, displaying good balance and jumping ability.
As a blocker, there is a lot to like when you take into consideration the type of player he is. When you look past what he can’t do, you can start to focus on what Reed can do as a blocker. He is at his best when performing a down block on defensive linemen in the run game. This was particularly effective against Georgia when the 236 lb Reed was asked to down block the 350 lb John Jenkins and then again against Damontre Moore when Florida played Texas A&M. Beyond this, he shows the ability to mirror rushing ends in pass protection and a decent anchor considering his size limitations.
To begin with, it is very clear he will not be a number one “pro style” tight end in the NFL. He has the build of a juiced up wide receiver instead of a tight end. This leads to limitations with Reed’s run blocking. He never finishes a block or blows a guy off the line but rather just disrupts their ability to make a play. Reed often is seen on tape falling to the ground when asked to be an in line blocking tight end because he doesn’t keep his feet under him consistently and causes him to lunge. Those are the issues when Reed is initiating contact but his real issue is when a rush defender tries to blow him off the ball. He doesn’t have the proper overall body strength to deal with the bull rush, so future offensive coordinators you will have to adjust for this deficiency. There is room for additional bulk on his frame but the question is whether this additional weight will negatively impact his strengths as a pass catcher and yards after catch.
Reed has very strong route running abilities but he is at his best when catching pass that are in the air for only a short period of time or in low traffic areas. When asked to run through traffic or across the middle he appears to notice the noise around him. Reed is rubbed off his route too often, disrupting timing and his acceleration. This was evident against Florida State when they were in zone coverage. The route tree he was asked to run the past few seasons has been limited by poor quarterback play. The lack of repetitions could result in a lower comfort level, so this weakness could sort itself with more experience and better quarterback play.
Reed is slated to be selected in rounds 3-5. The natural comparison is to former Gator Aaron Hernandez, whose limitations as a blocker have him playing a role as a slot receiver, H back, and even running back. I like his chances to contribute in a similar role in the NFL.
Grade – 6.5