…A two-year starter at Stanford, Reid was listed at free safety in the box score, but played seven different positions across the defensive secondary, emerging as one of the top defensive playmakers in the Pac-12 in 2017. As the son of a former LSU track All-American and younger brother of a former LSU football All-American, Reid was destined to don the purple and gold. However, he forged his own path and went west to sign with Stanford. It also helped that the Cardinal campus is located just miles down the road from the San Francisco 49ers facility where his brother was drafted in 2013.
Reid played primarily in the box and over the slot receiver in man coverage at Stanford, using his blend of athleticism and intelligence to fuel his versatility from snap-to-snap. He has the ball skills and heady awareness to make plays in coverage, but his first instinct is to grab, relying on his hands over footwork to transition with receivers. As a run defender, his overaggressive nature will work against him, but Reid is always on high alert with the ability to explode downhill.
A three-star safety recruit out of high school, Justin Reid earned all-state honors in football and track at Dutchtown, also earning a letter in soccer. Coming from a LSU bloodline (his father, mother, older sister and older brother all attended LSU), Reid had an obvious connection to continue his family’s legacy with the Tigers, but the classroom also played a major factor in his decision, considering offers from Harvard, Notre Dame and Stanford. In the end, while his heart was at LSU, he looked to create his own journey and committed to Stanford.
Reid saw action on special teams and made one start at nickel back as a true freshman, posting 23 tackles and his first career interception in 2015. He worked his way into the starting line-up at free safety as a sophomore and recorded 57 tackles and seven passes defended, earning All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention honors. Reid started all 14 games as a junior free safety in 2017 and tied for the conference-lead with five interceptions, adding 99 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 11 passes defended to earn First Team All-Pac 12 and Second Team All-America honors.
Doesn’t labor when forced to turn his body and stay on the same plane vertically. Not a burner, but quick to unlock his hips and accelerate. Football smart, diagnosing his keys and anticipating the action. Highpoints with timing and ball skills. Not shy getting physical at the line of scrimmage and making receivers uncomfortable. Alert vs. the run. Leverages run lanes and avoids blockers as a high-to-low tackler. Works hard to wrestle his man to the ground. Great communicator and orchestrates the defense. Versatile experience playing both safety positions and every cornerback role in Stanford’s scheme. Enjoys the mental challenges the game provides (numerous Academic All-Pac honors). Goal-oriented and won’t run around hurdles (“He’s so driven to be good.” – Stanford defensive coordinator Lance Anderson). Athletic bloodlines – father (Eric, Sr.) was an All-American on the LSU track team (1984-87); older brother (Eric, Jr.) was an All-American safety and first round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFL Draft. – Dane Brugler 1/14/2018
Grab first, move feet second in coverage. Needs to clean up his footwork and technique in coverage, taking too many false steps. Too hands-on when the ball is in the air, drawing penalties. Eyes spend too much time in the backfield, losing track of routes and taking wild cover angles. Lacks the make-up speed to recover if beaten off the snap. Sudden releases can get him off-schedule in press coverage. Seduced by ball fakes and play action. Has trouble breaking down on the move. Doesn’t have the body bulk of his brother. – Dane Brugler 1/14/2018
COMPARES TO: Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans – Byard is an All-Pro and Reid isn’t close to that level just yet, but with the athletic range, confidence and ball skills, they are similar stylistically. Time will tell if Reid can reach Byard’s level as a NFL player.
IN OUR VIEW: Reid isn’t the same enforcer or physical marvel that made his brother a first-round pick, but he has the baseline athleticism, versatility and diagnose skills to see NFL playing time. He is an ideal back-up candidate who can push for starting reps.