Former Arizona Wildcats defensive end Brooks Reed earned good reviews at practice this week for Saturday’s Senior Bowl.
“I thought I knew him well, and I thought he performed about up to expectations,” Rob Rang, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com told me Thursday night.
“He was impressive as a pass rusher. He showed a variety of pass rush moves. He showed motor. He showed the ability to drop back against the pass. … I thought it was a strong week of practice.”
It’s the last thing Rang talked about — Reed’s ability to drop back against the pass — that will be critical to Reed’s draft status.
Reed does not have prototypical size for an NFL defensive end. He was measured at 6-2 1/2 and 257 pounds at the Senior Bowl weigh-ins. Although he almost always played with his hand on the ground as a pass-rusher at Arizona, scouts will want to continue to evaluate Reed as a stand-up outside linebacker for a 3-4 scheme.
A sampling of opinion from throughout the week:
The Boston Globe: Arizona DE/OLB Brook Reed dropped into coverage more today and did fine. Good athletic ability.
SI.com: Reed has been nearly unstoppable the past two days. He’s showed great skill rushing the passer as well as the athleticism necessary to chase the action in backside pursuit. Reed is projected by many to line-up at outside linebacker in the NFL and was effective Tuesday the few times he was asked to stand up over tackle.
Houston Chronicle: Speaking of Arizona DE Brooks Reed — WOW! He had three terrific pass rushes in a row. The first was against (Mississippi State left tackle Derek) Sherrod who he beat by dipping his shoulder and turning the corner on him. On his second battle against Sherrod, he dusted him with an inside spin move. On his next snap, he went up against Auburn RT Lee Ziemba and this time the 262 pound Reed bull-rushed Ziemba back to where the QB would be. Three snaps, three different pass rush moves for Reed.
Of course, this is just the first step for Reed, who earned All-Pac-10 honors this season.
There is the actual Senior Bowl (although the game isn’t really as valuable as the week of practice in front of the scouts) and the NFL Combine and the pro day workouts. By now, the scouts must have a good handle on his pass rush skills, but there are open questions about the rest of his potential skills.
“The scouts are going to ask that he does drop back in coverage — backpedal and turn to his left, backpedal and turn to his right, flip his hips, change direction fluidly,” Rang said.
“That will determine if he is a legit 3-4 rush linebacker prospect or if he is a classic tweener — two small for defensive end and too big and stiff for outside linebacker.”
More Arizona football coverage from the TucsonCitizen.com Sports Network:
Brad Allis: Arizona football recruiting overview