Rookie report card: Justin Reid receives an A+

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A few months ago I wrote a film review about Justin Reid after the Texans beat the Redskins. I mentioned that he was the steal of the draft; a proclamation I believe to this day.

Now others believe the notion that Reid was a steal in the third round, as he has started to gain national attention. As he has earned spots on all-rookie teams by Pro Football Focus and ESPN. Meanwhile, Texans fans everywhere can sleep well at night knowing that general manager Brian Gaine drafted the cornerstone of their secondary with the 68th pick of the 2018 draft.

You read that right — he’s the cornerstone of the secondary.

During the 2018 season, he accumulated 88 total tackles, three interceptions, ten pass deflections, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and a touchdown in 13 starts. An even more impressive stat; Reid only missed five tackles, which is the lowest amount for any safety with 400+ snaps in the NFL.

His stats aren’t the reason why he gets an A+, and more importantly, is recognized as the cornerstone of the secondary.

His ability to take away the deep ball is a trait that makes him useful. In 2017 alone the Texans allowed 17 plays of 40+ yards, with Justin Reid in-fold that number dropped to 13. Keep in mind that the Texans trotted out an often injured, old, below average cornerback group.

Only one big play during the regular season can be credited to being Reid’s fault. A 60-yard Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton bomb.

It’s clear that Reid has improper leverage here, as he stays outside allowing Hilton to gain space inside. Though he could use more support from Tyrann Mathieu, Reid stops the bleeding with a sure tackle. Nonetheless, Reid could have executed the play better. Despite the poor support and solid tackle; this stands as his biggest rookie mistake of the year.

What Reid did best was playing the role of a free safety. This role essentially means that Reid is responsible for taking away the deep ball and being the last line of defense. Countless times Reid was shown playing the part well, even though he often had to pick up the slack for Shareece Wright, and other subpar cornerbacks.

Watch how Reid can stop this touchdown to Eric Ebron below. Though, unfortunately, Reid injured himself during this play.

Eric Ebron (No. 85) unquestionably has Tyrann Mathieu burnt on a go route (not a good look for Mathieu). But Reid is positioned well in zone coverage with his eyes on Andrew Luck. He properly slides to where he sees Andrew Luck throwing, and makes a bone-rattling tackle. Not only was the tackle enough to stop a touchdown, but he also put himself in the right place at the right time.

Justin Reid doesn’t just stop plays. He also makes them.

The 101-yard pick six on Alex Smith is not only the longest in franchise history, it’s also one forever ingrained in Texans fan’s minds.

*If you would like a more detailed look at this play and others, check out my film review on him.

The touchdown limiting plays are why I see Reid as the cornerstone of the Texans secondary. And his playmaking gives me confidence in his star potential. During the 2018 season, he hardly looked the part of a rookie. He knows how to use his 6’1″, 210 lb frame to his benefit while tackling, and has the football intelligence to give offensive coordinators headaches. His freakish athleticism is just a bonus. Leaving one to question, why wasn’t he a first round pick?

Final Grade: A+

-Avery Duncan

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