Georgia Football: Draft Stock Update for Former Bulldog, J.R. Reed

Brooks Austin

J.R. Reed started 42 consecutive games at the safety position for the University of Georgia after transferring from Tulsa and sitting out the 2016 season to await eligibility for the 2017 season. 

Doubted as a prospect out of high school, the former son of a 12-year NFL Veteran never truly accepted his position at a school like Tulsa. He was convinced he possessed the talents to play in a Power-5 conference. So, despite playing in all 13 games as a true freshman at Tulsa, Reed transferred to Georgia. 

Upon his arrival, Kirby Smart recognized rather quickly that Georgia had gotten themselves a football player. 

"I didn't know exactly what we were getting, but he has turned out to be probably the best decision we've made from the standpoint of transfers." 

Now, after three seasons at Georgia, he enters the 2020 NFL draft with some of the same questions he faced entering college. So here's the latest on Reed's NFL Draft Stock. 

Stock Watch

In three seasons at Georgia, J.R. Reed amassed 199 Total tackles. For comparison, no one had more than 150 over that span. He missed his final Georgia football game due to a foot injury and was not present at the Reese's Senior Bowl, nor any other senior bowl type event. So, what does the draft stock look like? 

Well, despite being an incredible leader as a multi-year captain at Georgia, being a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, and a Walter Camp All-American, some draft analysts think he could have already reached his ceiling as a prospect. 

Reed is classified as an "in the box" safety. Meaning he has been depended upon in run support and is a great open-field tackler in the run game. However, he was never really asked to play Center Field of the defense, and his coverage skills were limited during his time in Athens. His numbers show it too. 

42 starts to 5 INTs is not exactly a Ballhawk's ratio. For reference, Xavier McKinney had 5 INTs in two seasons at Alabama. 

J.R. Reed after the win over Georgia Tech this season

The Draft Network's Jonah Tulls summed it up perfectly back in November saying: 

"Because of his lack of experience in single-high looks and deep zone, it’s going to be hard for teams to project him as a dual-purpose safety, schematically. That is in addition to his already limited athletic profile. So even though I believe Reed is playing like one of the best safeties in college football, I don’t think his skill set, when judged individually amongst 50 to 60 other players at his position, stands out in terms of being drafted in the first two days of the NFL Draft."

J.R. Reed's abilities as a run support safety will be valued to some extent. However, there's reason to wonder if Reed is maxed out physically and if there will be any further progression in his game. The same questions that he faced coming out of high school. He was just a three-star with limited physical traits.

But one trait that is nearly impossible to evaluate is the impact that one player has on others. If you've had the pleasure to be around the Georgia program at any point in the past three seasons you'll have heard plenty of examples of J.R. Reed's influence. 

Whether it's correcting the alignment of younger players because they are lined up improperly on a specific play, or his enate ability to make an impact play exactly when needed. Like against Notre Dame. When the Irish had finally gained some momentum inside of a raucous and rioting Sanford Stadium, and just when Brian Kelly went to swing for the jugular and called a flea-flicker, J.R. Reed intercepted the pass. 

A result provided by an extraordinary dedication to film study. Reed told the media after the game that he'd noticed their propensity to dial-up trick plays in those types of moments. 

Those are the traits that you don't see on a forty-yard dash or a three-cone. Those are the traits you don't see in a 1 on 1 situation at a pre-draft workout. Those are the things you don't see in a combine workout. 

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Reed after the interception vs. Notre Dame

Here's where Reed stacks up according to NFL Draft Analysts: 

  • Mel Kiper: *Not listed in Top-10 Safeties list. 
  • Matt Miller: 13th on Safeties List. 
  • Not Named in SCOUTS Inc. Top-200 players
  • 6th on Safeties list

It appears the former Georgia Safety is likely going to be a late-round draft pick. This means he will likely be asked to play special teams at the next level will is something that he will excel at. His ability to find the ball carrier and bring him to the ground is something that is going to be valued.