Recently SB Nation's Clemson blog, Shakin' the Southland, reached out to Battle Red Blog to answer some questions about D.J. Reader's potential future with the Texans. You can read that Q&A here. I also had some questions for Brian at STS regarding Reader to try and get some insight into the second of Houston's 2016 fifth-round draft picks on and off the field.
BRB: What are D.J. Reader's most notable strengths?
STS: The best part of what Reader does is fill space in the run game. He's a big body, one of the heaviest in the 2016 draft, and he's extremely difficult to move. Reader is going to cause problems for the OL and likely prevent opposing teams from running the ball up the A gap. His ability in the run game was one of the biggest reasons for success in both 2014 and 2015 with Clemson's DL. For passing situations he did well as well, but I'm not sure about his ability to occupy a double team and free up other lineman and LBs for blitzing.
BRB: ...most notable weaknesses?
STS: He's not going to be a stats guy, which may play well if he becomes a NT, but he's not going to be busting through the line for tackles and sacks. His totals have decreased each year at Clemson and he's definitely more of a guy that fills space and occupies OL. If Houston can build around Reader on the line with players that can cause problems in the backfield he should do well, but if Houston is expecting Reader to do the work himself I don't think he will be successful. I'm also a bit concerned about his ability to handle a double team. As a NT he's going to have to do it a lot, and I don't know that he has much experience with it at Clemson. We run a 4-2-5 and with the power and speed of our DEs opposing teams usually had to focus on the outside threat.
BRB: How would you rate Reader's motor on a scale of one to five, five being the highest?
STS: I'd say it is a 3, maybe a 4. Part of the problem is that Reader missed half of last year and in 2014 he was part of a rotation on the DL that saw 8 players see significant time. So I can't tell you how long he will last each game, but he definitely isn't the type of player that takes time off during the game like a certain guy on your DL, Clowney. I think Texans fans will enjoy seeing Reader put in the effort to be successful.
BRB: How does Reader hold up against double-teams vs. some of the high-level competition he faced in his college career?
STS: He seemed fine, but frankly he didn't see a huge number of double teams. With Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd as our DEs, a lot more attention was paid to them. In a the run game he was certainly good against them, or at least he didn't bust or get blown up, but I never remember looking at the film and going, "Wow he just blew up a double team." But depending on how he used by the Texans, that may not be a bad thing. If he can just occupy the space and cause problems it can open up opportunities for other players.
BRB: What do you know about Reader's off-field reputation?
STS: By all accounts, Reader is a great guy off the field. He may not be a traditional leader, but he worked hard while at Clemson and wasn't in Dabo's doghouse. The one "black mark" that some may try to point to is his absence from the team for a few months during the 2015 season. Reader's dad passed away in 2014 and he struggled to cope with his passing. Reader decided to take a few months off from football in 2015 to try and get things right mentally. It seemed to help and he came back just as strong as ever.
BRB: Was Reader seen as a "leader" in college?
STS: Reader was expected to be a leader heading into 2015, but his absence from the team for a few months threw that into flux. When Reader returned, he was definitely a leader as a senior player, but I don't know that he was necessarily a vocal leader urging the team on.
BRB: In reading up on Reader, I've seen mention of the fact that he can do a full split. If that is true, how and why did this come to be known?
STS: As far as I know, it is true. And as for how it became public knowledge, my guess is Reader tried to teach Dabo how to do a split after one of Clemson's wins last season. Thankfully Dabo never tried that in the locker room. It would not have been pretty.