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Rising prospect: Ex-Wildcat Brooks Reed ready to roll at NFL Combine

Showing he can play outside linebacker is the latest hurdle for Brooks Reed.
Photo by Mark Evans, TucsonCitizen.com

Former Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed passed his first test by performing well in practices at the Senior Bowl.

Now comes his next text — the NFL Scouting Combine.

That got underway today in Indianapolis, with Reed’s groups — the defensive linemen and linebackers — beginning the process on Friday.

Yes, defensive linemen and linebackers.

Reed will do drills with both groups as scouts evaluate whether they like him as a smallish pass-rushing end who plays with his hand on the ground or a bigger pass-rush outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme who plays standing up.

“It’s not very much different,” Reed said in a phone interview last week.

“You’re either rushing the quarterback or you’re going to be covering somebody in the flats, which you sometimes do as a defensive end. It’s not like you’re covering a wide receiver up the seam.”

Based on his Senior Bowl workouts, Reed has been climbing on the boards of several draft analysts and NFL writers. Last week, DraftInsider.net, in a story for SportsIllustrated.com, listed Reed as the 33rd best prospect heading into the Combine, comparing him to Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

Presumably, not just because of the long, flowing hair.

Being a borderline first-round pick sounds like an optimistic projection for Reed … but, well, who knows? Much of his draft fate is still to be determined, starting with the Combine and including future workouts for scouts on the UA campus.

Reed, who has been training at Athletes Performance Institute in Phoenix (along with 62 other Combine-bound prospects), said he has been maintaining a weight of 260 pounds. He was measured at 6-2 1/2 at the Senior Bowl.

“I want to show them I can run fast at 260,” he said.

“There are a lot of coaches out there who want to see me run well and run fast and excel in the linebacker drills. They want to see flexibility and the traits of an outside linebacker. If they see that, it will back up everything.”

It will back up everything the coaches see on game tape — Reed’s hustle and his ability to find the quarterback. He had 17 career sacks and earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors as a senior.

But it’s not just about the physical skills and getting his body in better shape. He also has been going through interview training. Those face-to-face meetings with NFL coaches and personnel men — who sometimes bring psychologists — can be important and stressful.

Reed, a Sabino High graduate, got a taste of all that at the Senior Bowl.

“They will basically do a background check on you,” Reed said.

“They know everything about you going in. They basically want to see if you lie to their face. The key is just being yourself, don’t lie and have good eye contact.”

Reed is one of four Arizona players who will work out at the Combine, including fellow defensive ends Ricky Elmore and D’Aundre Reed. Offensive tackle Adam Grant, who also has been working out at API, is the other.

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