The Buffalo Bills are now 6-6 through the first 13 weeks of the 2015 NFL Season, and while the team isn’t officially eliminated from playoff contention just yet, they’ll need to finish the season strong in order to avoid missing the tournament for the 16th consecutive season. However, there’s a lot to be excited about on both sides of the ball and the 2016 NFL Draft will be an avenue that General Manager Doug Whaley and Head Coach Rex Ryan will utilize to acquire players that fit their vision for what the team should look like. Today, we’ll take a look at Alabama’s nose tackle Jarran Reed, one of the more talented defensive prospects in the draft.
From now until the 2016 NFL draft, I’ll be publishing my thoughts on various draft prospects that I’ve watched and offering opinions on their traits—both positive and negative—supplemented with video clips explaining my analysis, before detailing how the player would likely fit in within the Bills’ schemes.
I wrote up a primer on the team’s salary cap situation while highlighting potential free agent fits that you can find HERE if you missed it before.
Previous Prospect Breakdowns
Alabama has the best defensive line in the nation, but it’s been the play of 6’3” 315-pound Jarran Reed that has allowed the unit to thrive as a whole. Players such as A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen have received more national hype as prospects due to their height-weight-speed that most assume translates to a higher ceiling at the next level, but Reed is a fantastic player.
A former JUCO transfer, Reed immediate earned a starting role on the Crimson Tide’s defensive line in 2014, recording 114 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, three sacks and 12 pass breakups in his last 27 games. This season, he’s missed just one tackles, recorded 13 “stuffs” at the line of scrimmage and recorded 17 total pressures, according to www.CFBFilmStats.com
Jarran Reed is incredibly strong at the point of attack. Typically aligning at the zero-technique (directly over the center) or the one-technique (between the center and guard), he’s routinely double teamed. His overall core strength allows him to anchor and he rarely surrenders ground when facing multiple blockers.
In the following play against Tennessee, Reed is doubled after the snap but he’s able to not only hold his ground, but clog the lane and make an assisted tackle at the line of scrimmage.
Reed is asked to “two-gap” in Alabama’s 3-4 defensive front, meaning that his primary job is to occupy multiple blockers while being responsible for the gaps on either side of him. Here against Georgia, Reed is aligned at the five-technique (3-4 defensive end) where he’s expected to set the edge against the tackle in order for the linebacker to make a play. Reed performs the task of controlling the linemen, but he shows excellent hand usage to get inside his opponent’s pads and shed the block before making the tackle himself.
Reed understands the concept of leverage and using his hands, which makes him a problem for opposing offensive linemen. Here against Georgia, Reed fires off the ball, gets his hands inside the pads of the center and moves him backwards before tossing him aside and wrapping up the running back for no gain.
Reed is surprisingly athletic for his size and has incredible lateral agility that allows him to scrape down the defensive line, moving opposing linemen off their spot. That ability is displayed in the following play as he stays engaged with multiple blockers while moving them out of their blocking lane, allowing linebacker Reggie Ragland to shoot the gap and deliver a big hit.
Something Reed will have to work on is staying calm. Once he gets hot, he can get over-aggressive and stray from proper technique, including playing too high and trying to rely on his sheer strength to dominate linemen. This causes him to lose leverage and will result with him on the ground and out of the play more often than not.
Jarran Reed is a dominant run defender, but he’s proven to be disruptive in passing situations when given the opportunity. He’s quick enough to get skinny and penetrate gaps while having the brute strength to bull-rush opposing linemen into the quarterback. In the following rep, Reed just destroys the linemen off the snap before shedding the running back’s weak attempt at a block. Reed accelerates and chases down the quarterback, swatting the ball out of his hand as he attempts to throw it away, resulting in a turnover.
Here against Tennessee, Reed shows off a nifty arm over rip move, using one arm to get into the pads of the guard and the other to “swim” over his shoulder and shed the block, delivering a blow to quarterback Joshua Dobbs as he gets the ball off.
Potential Fit With Buffalo Bills
With Rex Ryan obviously looking to run a traditional 3-4 defense, coupled with the rumblings of a potential Mario Williams offseason release, the Bills will be in the market for a powerful, disruptive defensive linemen that fits the scheme.
Reed can play all three positions within Ryan’s 3-4 system and pairing him with Marcell Dareus would give the unit flexibility to feature exotic fronts, much like the Jets did with Sheldon Richardson and Muhammed Wilkerson. Reed is a dominant run defender that that two-gap, while flashing the ability to disrupt the backfield in passing situations. Right now, he’s viewed as a mid-to-late first round prospect by most analysts.