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NFL Draft 2018: D.J. Reed

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He’s fast, he can return kicks, and he can play pass defense. Surely some NFL team could use those talents.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The Player

D.J. Reed, CB/Returner | Height: 5’9” | Weight: 188 lbs.

D.J. Reed came to Kansas State after a bit of a tumultuous start to his career that saw him originally on the roster at Fresno State, where he contemplated getting out of football entirely, before he left and spent a season at season at Cerritos College. He got himself back in the game, and turned into a solid, if still somewhat overlooked, defensive back. He caught the attention of the K-State coaching staff, and signed with K-State a week after national Signing Day in 2016.

He made an immediate impact at K-State, starting all but one game his first season in Manhattan. He finished in a tie for 2nd on the team in tackles with 75, and recorded three interceptions, including a pick-6, to go with a Big 12-leading 19 passes defensed. For his efforts he was named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year, and was named to the All-Big 12 First Team by the conference’s coaches, becoming the first Wildcats defensive back to do so in his first season since Nigel Malone in 2011. Reed also added kick return duties near the end of the season, and racked up 80 return yards in the Wildcats win over Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl.

His 2017 season was even better, and though Reed missed a couple games mid-season due to injury, he started 11 games and was a primary return threat with Byron Pringle. After his stellar 2016 season, he got targeted far less often by opposing QB’s, but he still managed 47 tackles and four interceptions, and was ranked as one of the five-best CB’s in multiple metrics by Pro Football Focus. He became a significant threat on returns, taking both a punt and a kickoff back for a touchdown, joining some dude name Terance Newman to perform such a feat in one season. For his efforts, he was again name First Team All-Big 12 as a defensive back by the coaches and the Associated Press, while also earning the same honors as a returner from the coaches. He also earned All-American honors, being named to the Second Team as a CB by Pro Football Focus and Second Team as a returner by Walter Camp and the Football Writers Association of America.

Draft Outlook

Reed had a stellar two seasons in Manhattan, enough so that he was encourged to forgo his final season of eligibility and declare early for the NFL Draft, and is the player most likely to continue K-State’s Big 12-leading NFL draft streak. His biggest knock is his size, as his listed 5’9” makes him undersized as compared to expectations from NFL GMs and scouts. That didn’t stop him from going up against Big 12 receivers who will hear their name called higher in the draft, and generally keeping the upper-hand. Also, his recorded 40-yard dash time was just 4.51, though his actual game speed seems to be higher than that.

Reed projects as a 4th-6th round prospect, and will likely get drafted based on return abilities more than his coverage abilities. Which means that whichever NFL team drafts Reed is going to get a high value, and likely a guy who is going to surprise teams and fans, much like a similarly under-sized Tyler Lockett has done in his first few seasons in Seattle.

The 2018 NFL Draft will be held from April 26 to 28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Live television coverage begins at 7 PM CDT on April 26.