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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Justus Reed

  • The Draft Network
  • January 31, 2021
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After seven seasons of college football, Justus Reed left an eighth year of eligibility on the table. His career began at Florida in 2014. He redshirted in 2015 and missed most of the 2016 season with a knee injury. He then transferred to Youngstown State where he suffered a torn Achilles that forced him to miss the entire 2018 season. He returned in 2019 to record 19 tackles for loss and 13 sacks for the Penguins and then took his talents to Virginia Tech, where he led the team in sacks in 2020. Reed will be 25 as a rookie. The best components of Reed’s game are his rush variety, functional strength, hand usage, and effort. With that said, he’s a modest run defender due to inconsistent processing and he doesn’t have ideal burst and bend as a pass rusher despite being a touch undersized. This makes him a light power rusher that works overtime to grease rush angles and he isn’t a threat to consistently challenge the outside hip of offensive tackles. Reed doesn’t have the athletic profile that translates well to playing in space or serving as a standup outside linebacker. Reed is an older prospect with a limited ceiling and doesn’t have the body type to match his style of play. He has a chance to stick as a rotational end. 

Ideal Role: Rotational base end.

Scheme Fit: 4-3.


Written by: Joe Marino 

Games watched: Howard (2019), Pittsburgh (2020), North Carolina (2020), Clemson (2020), NC State (2020) 

Best Game Studied: NC State (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: North Carolina (2020) 

First-Step Explosiveness: Reed is not very explosive out of his stance but shows good quickness in steps two and three. He has room to grow when it comes to anticipating the snap and more quickly getting into his rush. Generally speaking, offensive tackles weren’t stressed by Reed’s ability to release and explode up the arc. 

Flexibility: Reed won’t be confused as a bendy pass rusher and he requires angles to be fully greased. There were instances on film where he had a full step on his man but didn’t have the ankle flexion or flexibility through his hips to corner the outside hip. This deficiency leads to a reliance on power and inside moves.  

Hand Counters: Reed illustrates good variety with his rush moves and hand technique. I’ve seen him win with a club-swim combo, two-hand swipe, cross-chop, one-arm stab, inside swim, and bull rush. His hands are always busy and he works hard to grease angles and keep his pads clean. 

Length: Reed has sufficient length and he’s fairly deliberate about keeping his pads clean by winning with first contact. Reed doesn’t often allow blockers to get their hands fit and he does well to play with extension. While he’s an inconsistent tackler, there are impressive moments where he finishes outside of his frame. 

Hand Power: Reed has some nice pop in his punch. He has some positive reps where he’s able to get his hands placed and challenge the width of the pocket with an effective bull rush or even take control of reps with a one-arm stab. He’s quite violent with his swipes and strikes. 

Run Defending: Reed is an average run defender. He’s capable of squeezing gaps and setting the edge, but play recognition can be an issue. There are instances where he gets too far up the field, creating levels to the defense, and not managing his contain responsibilities well enough. 

Effort: Reed is a competitor and his motor always runs hot. He’s never content being blocked and demonstrates good enthusiasm in pursuit. He keeps battling throughout every snap, keeps his hands engaged, and plays aggressively. 

Football IQ: Reed played college football for seven (7!) seasons with stops at Florida, Youngstown State, and Virginia Tech. He’s been exposed to a lot of coaching and techniques. Overall, Reed plays with good hand technique and understands his skill set and how to attack the pocket.  

Lateral Mobility: Reed doesn’t have above average lateral mobility and is not a candidate for a standup role. His flow toward the sideline is segmented and tardy. He has tweener measurables but lacks the change of direction skills and lateral mobility to be a space player. 

Versatility: Reed is a touch undersized to play 4-3 defensive end, but that’s where he fits best. He’s a better pass rusher than he is a run defender, but lacks twitch, burst, and bend to be overly dynamic. Regardless of the role, Reed has limitations. 

Prospect Comparison: James Gayle (2014 NFL Draft, UDFA Tennessee Titans) 


TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Joe Marino: 67/100

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