After making arguably the best move in free agency the Texans have made in, well, possibly forever by signing strong safety Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, new Houston general manager Brian Gaine earned his paycheck by selecting free safety Justin Reid with the first of the Texans’ picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. Houston may very well have the best safety tandem in team history right now. Let’s get excited about it!
Many had Reid listed as a top-five safety in the draft. Walter Football projected him as the number two free safety behind Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison. Many scouts had him as a first round talent, which means the Texans got great value in the third round by selecting Reid alone.
Despite Harrison, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Derwin James considered by many to be better prospects, Reid is a much better fit for Houston than at least Harrison would have been; Harrison is more a run defender and struggled against receivers at times.
Reid had his struggles as well, but did so playing behind a Stanford front seven that has nothing on Houston’s defensive line and ‘backers. Sitting behind J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and crew, plus playing off the hip of the aforementioned Honey Badger, should help with Reid’s rapid development as a pro.
Here are some scouting reports on the Texans’ newest safety:
Justin Reid*, S, Stanford
Height: 6-0. Weight: 207.
Arm: 31.63. Hand: 9.75.
40 Time: 4.40. Projected Round (2018): 1-3.
4/25/18: Reid played really well for a lot of 2017, impressing NFL scouts. Sources who are tough graders said they think Reid has early-round potential for the 2018 NFL Draft. They say that Reid doesn’t have Earl Thomas-like range as a free safety or Kam Chancellor-like size as a strong safety, but he does everything well. Reid is a good free or strong safety with the ability to run and tackle. They say that he is a polished, clean, good all-around safety similar to HaHa Clinton-Dix coming out of Alabama. Evaluators said that Reid didn’t close out the season as well and had some rough tapes late in the year, including a game against USC in which the Trojans targeted him and exploited him in man coverage on slot receivers all night. That is likely to end up pushing him to Day 2 in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Since Reid has the sought-after versatility that’s become a huge commodity in the Bill O’Brien era, surely it’s only a matter of time before we have soundbites of him espousing the need to be the best Houston Texan he can be.
Having Reid and Mathieu in the backfield gives defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel all the toys to move around the board, masterminding a chess match that will give opposing offensive coordinators anxiety attacks early and often. The ability to employ Johnathan Joseph, Aaron Colvin, Kevin Johnson, Kareem Jackson, Andre Hal, Corey Moore, Mathieu and Reid on any given play in a wide variety of configurations should go a long, long way to taking Houston’s secondary out of the basement and into the upper echelons of NFL coverage units.
As long as everyone can stay healthy – which is more and more of a pipe dream in the modern NFL – this defense should return to lockdown status. Either way, it’s safe to say Gaine and O’Brien have managed to take what seemed to have the potential to be the most underwhelming offseason in Houston history and turn it into a winner.
Now to see if that translates into another AFC South Division title… and more.
What do you think? Has Houston hit safety gold? Feel like the pick was wasted? Wish they’d done the idiotic thing and traded Whitney Mercilus for a higher draft pick? Type it up and pound the comment button.