Guest Contributor and NFL Draft writer, Fernando Stepensky
Brooks Reed, 3-4 OLB/4-3 DE, Arizona, 6’3 257 lbs
Strengths: The defensive linemen out of Arizona first burst onto the scene during the 2008-2009 season. He racked up 33 total tackles with 25 of them being solo in that season alone. The season after that (2009-2010), he went downhill, only racking up a total of 20 tackles. In fairness he was plagued with injury during that season and had trouble starting, let alone performing. Logically, he decided to return for his senior season and he made the most of it. He had 47 total tackles, 26 of them solo. The hard work he put in coming into the 2010 season showed, and resulted in another breakout year. He also had scouts everywhere buzzing.
One attribute to his breakout season was his quick explosiveness off the line. Reed posted a solid 1.54 10 yard split and 4.65 40 yard dash. Times snap well and doesn’t get caught offside’s very often. His quick agility off the line gave him time to whip out his favorite weapon, the bull rush!
Brooks' excellent bull rush was tough to contain for many offensive lineman. Even with that, the bull rush isn’t as easy to control as it seems. You need to have excellent positioning, get a great hit on the lineman, and have straight line speed in order to tackle the quarterback or running back. Brooks Reed's bull rush contributed a great deal to his seven sacks this past season.
You can bet that teams will be looking at Reed’s explosiveness and bull rush when deciding whether or not to select him on Draft Day. However, they will be weighing those strengths against the following weaknesses as well.
One of the main reasons he has a poor change of direction is because of his basic lineman footwork. When he needs to stutter step, he takes long strides, and vise versa. The thing that is effected most by his lack of direction is his ability to simply tackle on run plays. The main way that a runner gets away from you is faking one way and going the other. I feel as though the second Brooks is paired up against someone like Chris Johnson, it's going to result in a touchdown, untouched. One of the sure ways to have a successful career as a defensive lineman is to have a good change of direction, and I feel that if Brooks' works on his footwork, his change of direction will be heavily improved.
Brooks Reed needs to develop a wider arsenal of moves. At the moment, he really only has two: the bull rush and his spin move, which is over-used. Also, as I depicted above, a bull rush is much less effective in the NFL than in the NCAA. Along with his bull rush, his spin move needs to be paranormal to get him passed someone such as Michael Oher. The thing that would get Brooks more sacks and give him more total tackles is expanding his arsenal of moves. With a greater variety, you are less predictable and more likely to get into open space.
Best Fit: The talk with most d-linemen coming out of college is, should they be in a 3-4 or a 4-3. I feel that Brooks Reed will fit better in a 3-4, playing linebacker, than in a 4-3 (which he played in college) at the outside linemen position. Brooks main problem is against bigger offensive linemen and you can bet that the ones in the NFL are much bigger than the ones in the NCAA. He will have much more trouble getting through these linemen unless he works on his weaknesses I depicted above. Changing all those things takes a long time and doesn’t happen overnight. I feel the coaches will see that and try him out at linebacker. Also, the coaches are well aware that he adjusts to a new position quickly, because he changed from full back to linemen in his Freshmen year. I feel the 49ers would be a great fit for the Senior out of Arizona.
X-Factor: Their will be three things that will make or break Brooks. One, his ability to adjust in the case that he is switched to a 3-4 and is put at linebacker. Two, can he improve on his change of direction? Three, will he add a wider arsenal of moves if he remains at the 4-3 outside linemen position? These things ultimately will decide his fate and how successful he will be in the NFL.
Where he will be drafted: Late 1st to beginning fourth round.
Where he should be drafted: Truly depends on the defense that is being run on the team and whether they feel he can adjust to a new scheme. Not much has been said by the defensive coaches on whether they see him playing linebacker in a 3-4. He should be drafted in the late first purely because he can play more than one position and is a great leader.
NFL Comparison: Clay Matthews, Linebacker, Green Bay Packers. I am not saying he will turn out like him, but he plays very similar to how Clay played coming out of college.
Brooks Reed highlights