If you watch football like I do you’ve noticed a trend that you’d think had no chance of lasting become even more prevalent. A modern day first round wide receiver has to be over 6 feet tall and must run a certain 40 time – basically he has to pass the eyeball test.
Yet how is it Sunday after Sunday we see mid round receivers who are small and quicker rather than fast continue to win?
And why didn’t we see that activity in Baltimore?
Enter David Reed.
Mention his name and those who recognize it might say, “He’s the guy who had the 103 yard return right? Dude is really fast!”
Well not exactly!
If he was really fast he would have been selected in the 2nd or 3rd round. Instead he was the 156th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. The truth is David Reed is not really fast.
That said Reed is fast enough, very quick, tough and productive. His hands, body control, fearlessness all lead you to believe in he can excel in the slot much like New England’s Wes Welker who seems to catch 2,000 balls a year.
On any level if you can catch 111 balls in a season you know how to get open. That’s exactly what Reed did at Pasadena City College in 2007 setting a national junior college record on his way to 1,661 yards and 13 TDs in 10 games.
By the time he broke his way into the starting lineup at Utah he caught another 81 balls for 1,188 in his senior year. The kick returns are a bonus yet the real substance of Reed as a player is as receiver. He’s the exact kind of player that wins in space and extends drives any you can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Reed was able to get on the field this past season.
Consider how the Packers abused the Steelers in the slot during Super Bowl XLV. Some of those routes that got swallowed in coverage by slower and less sudden receivers could have turned into modest gains that help extend drives, get the ball out quicker, and maybe improve Flacco’s proficiency inside the hash marks.
Reed caught the eye of Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric Decosta at last year’s East West shrine game practices.
“He competed hard all week” Decosta said. “He’s a tough guy, has good hands, and he’s a very good practice player”. His value as a kick returner was evident but Decosta was pleasantly surprised with his “willingness to cover kicks, he loves to play special teams”.
When asked about Reed’s role for this year Decosta answered, “We think he has a chance to come in a compete for playing time on offense this year”.
Fast forward to the present, where the Ravens roster of receivers is in a state of transition.
Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss were taken in last month’s draft. They’ve invited James Hardy in for a little tire kicking to see if he can resurrect a once promising outlook. Brandon Jones is another reclamation project only he’s a bit older (28 v. 25). Marcus Smith has shown little as a WR and we’ve waited on Justin Harper the last couple off-seasons to develop some consistency.
Currently Reed looks to be the fifth man on the totem pole, but 2 of those guys have never played a down in the NFL. When the dust settles there’s a chance his role will expand, and looking at the last couple times his role has expanded as a football player I think it’s a safe bet production will follow.