Shutdown Corner - NFL

With the 2010 NFL season in the books (and a lockout battle now headed to the courts) it's time to turn our eyes to the NFL draft, and the pre-draft evaluation process. We've already done scouting reports of the top 40 players on our board, and you can read all the details on the first Shutdown 40 here. For the second Shutdown 40, players 41-80, we have the advantage of combine performances and that much more evaluation material.

Over the next few weeks, we'll also be adding Pro Day data when relevant. But we're always going mostly on game tape; the proper evaluation formula seems to be about 80 percent tape, 20 percent Senior Bowl/combine/Pro Day. If you see what you expect in drills, you go back to the tape to confirm. If what you see in drills surprises you in a positive or negative sense, you go back to the tape to catch where the anomalies may be.

We continue the second Shutdown 40 with Arizona OLB Brooks Reed. Projected as a tweener prospect at the NFL level, Reed put up the best 10-yard split among the outside linebackers at the scouting combine (1.54 seconds), which spoke to his first-step explosiveness. Reed made first-team All-Pac 10 in 2010 after putting up 44 tackles (26 solo), 6.5 sacks, two passes defenses, and a forced fumble.  In his four-year career at Arizona, Reed amassed 111 tackles (75 solo), 17 sacks, five passes defensed, five forced fumbles, and one quarterback hurry.

A very strong pre-draft process and the NFL's need for 3-4 rush linebackers off the edge make Reed a fringe first-round prospect on the eyes of some analysts; and there are those who compare him to Clay Matthews(notes) of the Green Bay Packers. Does the tape live up to the hype?

Pros: Extremely quick defender in short spaces who can sift through blockers in a hurry and get to the target. Persistent defender who can peel off tackles on the edge with spin moves. Good eye for the ball — looks to redirect even when occupied by blockers. Has a very effective inside loop move that he should use more often. Slips off very well when he's head-up over a tackle; uses his hands well in these situations. Can get off the snap quickly enough to beat his blocker outright. Used very effectively inside in some nickel situations

Cons: Reed is so intent on blasting through and making the splash play that he'll get off-kilter and blow right by the ballcarrier if he's faked out. Doesn't have the bull-rush power to slam past tackles on a consistent basis — he's more effective from a wider set. Does not possess an array of quick lateral moves to get around blockers; he pretty much comes straight on all the time. Hasn't shown specific ability to drop into overage effectively.  

Conclusion: Reed lined up as the right end on a lot of four-man fronts at Arizona, and despite his 6-foot-3, 263-pound frame, I'm not sure that's his best position. He is better off as an "endbacker" in a five-man front, and in four-man sets, he may be best when stunting inside or lining up over guard. The Clay Matthews comparisons are valid to a point — like Matthews, Reed is a muscular, long-haired pass-rusher who plays with maximum effort. But Matthews is just as effective when taking blockers straight on, and he's much better from side to side.

The fact that Reed faced so many left tackles during his time at Arizona might help his case at the next level if a team moves him around, but there's work to be done before Reed is at Matthews' level, and in the wrong system, Reed could perform a serious disappearing act.

NFL Comparison: Larry English(notes), San Diego Chargers

More Second Shutdown 40
#41 — Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia | #42 — Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple | #43 — Aaron Williams, DB, Texas | #44 — Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech | #45 — Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA | #46 — Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois | #47 — D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas | #48 -- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina | #49 — Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy | #50 — Jabbal Sheard, DE, Pitt | #51 — Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa

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