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Monday, April 25, 2011
Draft profile: Arizona OLB Brooks Reed

By Rich Cimini

Leading up to the April 28-30 NFL draft, ESPNNewYork.com is providing profiles of prospects being considered by the Jets with the 30th overall pick. Previously, UCLA S Rahim Moore, Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Ohio State DE Cam Heyward, UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers, Georgia OLB Justin Houston and Colorado CB Jimmy Smith were featured.

Under the Microscope: Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona

• Reed's stock has been rising since the combine, where he worked out as a defensive lineman and tested well across the board. At 6-2 1/2, 263 pounds, he ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds, faster than 18 of the 24 linebackers. What really jumped out was his 10-yard split -- 1.54 seconds, best among the DLM. It was a smidge quicker than Von Miller (1.57), regarded as the best edge rusher in the draft and a likely top-5 pick.

• Why should we care about a 10-yard split? For a pass rusher, it's critical. It reflects the player's burst and explosiveness, which probably is more important than a 40 time. At the same time, you don't want to get too caught up in workout numbers. The Jets succumbed to that in 2008 and ended up with Vernon Gholston.

• Reed finished with good, not great production at Arizona. In 34 starts over three seasons, he produced 15 sacks and 20 tackles-for-loss. In 2009, he missed five starts with a severe ankle sprain. Interestingly, Reed began his career as a 215-pound H-Back.

• The story with Reed is his motor: He's relentless. Even a casual fan can see that Reed plays with all-out intensity. That goes a long way with Rex Ryan, who constantly preaches to his players, "Play like a Jet." Well, Reed would play like a Jet.

Check out this highlight video of Reed. Around the one-minute mark, Reed delivers a pretty good lick on a familiar quarterback -- Mark Sanchez, who coughs up the ball. It's the Arizona-USC game from 2008.

• Reed is drawing a lot of Clay Matthews comparisons because of his shoulder-length blond hair. This is what one GM told me about Reed, "He plays a little like Matthews. Clay Matthews has helped this kid. He's got a great motor and excellent speed. The 3-4 teams are starting to get on this guy. I think he's a first-round pick or a high second."

• Reed was predominantly a defensive end in college, lining up almost exclusively wide on the right side. There's always risk when projecting a DE to OLB in a 3-4 scheme, but the GM said, "He started to play up late in the season and looked good. He has the ability to do it. He was exceptionally fast." He reportedly impressed in linebacker drills at the Senior Bowl.

• One of the knocks on Reed is that he's stiff in the hips and doesn't bend well. He has virtually no experience in pass coverage, but the "rush" linebacker in the Jets' scheme drops only about 15 percent of the time, according to the team.

• The Jets have a significant need at OLB, especially with Bryan Thomas entering the final year of his contract. They need a player who can come in as a rookie and contribute as a nickel pass rusher while learning a role in the base defense. Reed will give 100 percent, no doubt; the question is whether he can play to his eye-catching workout numbers.