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Houston Texans Justin Reid Poised For Breakout Year

Second year safety is a first string star

Indianapolos Colts v Houston Colts Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images

Leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, it was hard to expect the Houston Texans could land a pro bowl level player without a first or second round pick in their hand. But former general manager Brian Gaine did his homework on a potential super star, as did many others. When Gaine turned in his first draft card as the new Texans GM when the 3rd round loaded up, Justin Reid, brother of NFL pro bowl safety Eric Reid landed in battle red.

The ever optimistic John Harris had this to say about Reid prior to the 2018 draft:

He played 30% of his snaps at safety, 54% at nickel/slot cornerback and 15+% were down in the box. He has excellent cover skills. I see him as a best fit as a nickel/slot with the way he can cover. The range he has in coverage can help set him apart from a bunch of other safeties in this class. He makes more plays on the ball and is better in coverage than he is a rock hard hitter. He doesn’t pack a wallop when he hits, but he doesn’t miss many tackles, if at all. I love his coverage range and that’ll make teams more interested.

Seems pretty dead-on for what Reid displayed on the field last year.

After the draft, lots of speculation ensued if Reid was a depth guy or someone who could actually crack the starting lineup. With Andre Hal and Tyrann Mathieu already entrenched as the starters, it seemed hard to imagine the former Stanford star would see the field immediately.

Fast forward to his first month of the regular season and not only was Reid on the field, he was making his presence known. After four games, Reid had 15 combined tackles, 1 quarterback hit and 2 passes defensed.

Then in week 5 Reid got his first interception against the Dallas Cowboys, and suddenly, people were talking.

While the early highlights drew some attention, the historic 101-yard pick-6 against the Redskins in week 10 thrust Reid into the national conversation via SportsCenter, the NFL Channel and every where else that amazing plays are shown.

Fast forward to the 2019 off-season and Reid’s unfortunate car accident with a drunk driver (don’t drink and drive or text and drive people. EVER!) that briefly landed him on the non football injury list.

Houston let Tyrann Mathieu head out to Kansas City, Andre Hal retired and corner/safety hybrid Kareem Jackson left for the Denver Broncos.

Suddenly, Justin Reid is the rookie-turned-veteran in the Texans’ secondary and the look suits him well.

Unlike Andre Hal and the Honey Badger, Reid has a role model who not only walks the walk, but talks the talk, in older brother Eric (who played with Mathieu at LSU).

Justin Reid

[Having a brother like Eric] really helped me with football, with him teaching me safety skills before I had to get in the games. He’d give me little tips, pep talks.

Whenever I have mistakes, I have him right there to reinforce and teach me. He’ll be like, ‘OK, so when you did this on this play, do this instead.’ It’s almost like another coach, too, so it’s been really big. My brother’s been a big influence on my life.

Growing up, Justin, the youngest of three boys, was treated like the baby of the family by their parents. Well, this didn’t sit well with his two older brothers, who let Justin know life wasn’t all about being babied.

Eric Reid

He was the baby, so my parents always treated him like a baby. Me and Ryan hated that, so we would always go that much harder on him. Whether it was video games, sports or whatever. We just always made sure we beat him into the ground.

Whenever we weren’t around, he would just practice, practice, practice until he got better than us.

One day, I could never beat him any more at video games. [He knocked me out playing Dragon Ball Z and] I was like, ‘OK. I guess I’m not playing that any more.’

Now, heading into his second year, just as he did with his older brothers, Justin has shown the NFL he ain’t scared and he’s come to play.

Newly added Tashaun Gipson, a salary cap casualty of the Jacksonville Jaguars, should pair nicely with Reid, giving Houston a rock solid safety corps. Now, if the ageless wonder Jonathan Joseph, free agent addition of Bradley Roby and returning nickel corner Aaron Colvin can all play at their top levels, Houston’s secondary will be much improved from last year.

No matter what the other players do, expect Reid to be next level. And, this season he’ll get a chance to prove himself against Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck. Shutting that group down is a tall order, but don’t expect Reid to shy away - growing up with Eric Reid pounding any ounce of terror out of him translates to Justin’s fearless playing style.

What do you think? Has Houston done enough to improve the secondary this off-season? Will the progression of Justin Reid and the additions of Gipson and Roby be enough to shore up the defensive back end? Give us your thoughts in the comments section.