Name: Brooks Reed
Position: Outside Linebacker/Defensive End
HT/WT: 6'3", 263 lbs
Projection: 1st-2nd Round
Strengths: We haven't discussed Brooks Reed a lot on this blog yet, but we should be discussing him plenty in the upcoming months. At just under 6'3" and 263 pounds, Reed has prototypical size for a 3-4 outside linebacker. He also runs a 4.65 40 yard dash, and is extremely quick for a player of his stature (ran a better 20 yard shuttle than Ryan Kerrigan, Sam Acho, Akeem Ayers, Robert Quinn, and Aldon Smith among many others. The fluidity he showed as a linebacker at the combine (as well as at the Senior Bowl), tells me two things: First, he has the ability to make plays in space as a linebacker. And second, that he will fare okay in coverage. He also played over the tackle a lot as a defensive end at Arizona. He can drive back blockers and set the edge okay. He has excellent upper body strength (30 bench press reps at the combine). As a pass rusher, Brooks Reed is absolutely relentless, and has drawn comparisons to Clay Matthews for a reason other than his hair. He has an incredibly explosive first step. At the combine, his 10 yard dash time of 1.54 was faster than many elite prospects, including many receivers such as Georgia's A.J. Green. He uses that elite acceleration to engage blockers with his powerful bull rush. He also has a good speed rush and spin move (that he often uses after the initial bull rush).
Weaknesses: Reed is still making the transition to outside linebacker, so he still needs some work in that area. Despite his high motor as a pass rusher, he still needs to refine his technique. And while his production is good (seven sacks his senior season), it isn't elite. While the potential is there for him to be good at setting the edge, he isn't quite there yet.
How He Fits the Patriots: If Reed were drafted by the Patriots, he would likely make the immediate transition to outside linebacker. As a rookie, Reed would likely be asked to be a 3rd down pass rusher, but he certainly has the skill-set to make a more immediate impact as an every down linebacker. Reed has been moving up draft boards as of late, so if the Patriots were to target him, it would likely be with the 28th or 33rd picks in the draft.