On August 24, the Seahawks traded a conditional seventh-round pick to the Texans in exchange for cornerback John Reid. Reid was a fourth-round pick of Houston's out of Penn State.
His rookie year started brightly.
“He might’ve had the best camp of any rookie,” praised head coach/general manager (wow, Houston really did try that) Bill O’Brien on August 25, 2020.
Then-Texans defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver said in a Zoom call the week prior that Reid “operates around here like he is a five-year vet.”
Now 25 years old, Houston—regime change enacted, yet franchise still in disarray—was ready to cut Reid well before the final round of releases. In stepped Seattle with a low-risk, potentially high-reward move.
Reid is the latest in the new mold of Seahawks outside corners, inspired by the historic success of Donnie LeGrand and recent triumph of D.J. Reed, the smaller type Carroll spoke of and that I wrote about earlier in the offseason.
At the 2020 NFL combine, Reid measured in at 5-foot-10 and 187 pounds with just 301/8-inch arms.
He tested twitchy with a 4.49-second 40-yard dash, 36½-inch vertical jump and 129-inch broad jump (89th percentile).
His agility testing was also decent, posting a 6.95-second 3 cone underpinned by a 90th percentile 3.97-second short shuttle run.
Whatever the Nittany Lions' strength and conditioning staff are doing is producing results; Reid’s workout was topped off by 20 reps on the bench press.
Here’s how that stacks up with the three other small corners on the Seahawks’ roster: D.J. Reed, Damarious Randall and Tre Brown.
Reed is an unusual example because of his arm length being much closer to the notorious 32-inch threshold that once drove Seattle’s acquisition of outside cornerback talent. Despite an impressive camp from Tre Flowers—praised by head coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.—Reed, now back from injury, is the established dude on the right side.
Meanwhile, Randall’s agility testing—something the Seahawks do not seem to prioritize when looking at DB talent in general—makes him stand out.
It’s Brown who John Reid’s profile is most similar to. Brown is also the man who created the opportunity for Reid.
Prior to the team's second preseason game, Brown, Seattle’s 2021 fourth-round draft pick, was being hyped up as a potential starter at left cornerback. Ahkello Witherspoon was signed in free agency to a one-year, $4million deal to be the Seahawks’ glitzy, long starter at the spot.
“Witherspoon is a guy that's been making plays. He had a really good day yesterday, he's been having a really good camp,” declared Norton on August 25.
However, in exhibition action, Witherspoon has been less impressive.
“Preseason has been fair," assessed Norton.
Brown was perfect to push and potentially take Witherspoon’s spot, mixing in with the first string during practices. Then, he disappeared from the picture.
“He’s got a sore knee,” Pete Carroll told reporters after Brown sat out of practice on August 24.
When the head coach was asked if Brown will be kept out a while, Carroll replied: “I don’t know that, I think we’re kinda going day-to-day right now.”
It’s now August 27 and Brown still hasn’t returned to action.
The arrival of Reid signifies that Brown’s ominous knee soreness will at least keep him out of Saturday’s third and final preseason game versus the Chargers.
“The fact that Tre Brown is down right now, you know that's why John Reid is coming in, you know,” admitted Carroll on Tuesday. “We want to make sure that we have depth and have the kind of, you know, competitive speed that we need out there.”
Reid’s first practice in Seattle was outstanding, with beat reporters raving about multiple plays.
“Well you could tell that he came in wanting to set an impression,” Norton reflected afterwards. “He was making some plays.”
Seahawk Maven's Corbin Smith described Reid sticking tight to DK Metcalf in red zone one-on-ones to force an incompletion, while also breaking up a pass in team drills when matched up versus Metcalf.
“He made himself be known,” concluded Norton. “So far, after one day, if anyone can make a really good first impression, he made a good one.”
Randall will be Reid’s direct competition at left corner in terms of the mold and also for making the roster.
“I'm really anxious to see Damarious Randall, you know, he missed some time and so this is an important last couple of weeks,” Carroll said on Tuesday.
"He was banged up. So he's gonna get a shot this week and see how he does and just take it from there."
Norton was full of praise for Randall’s skillset.
“He's aggressive, he's really smart, he's a guy that wants to make the play, he's eager to find the ball,” the play-caller evaluated.
Randall’s skill to refine will be honing when and where to make his plays.
“It's important for him to really understand the different times he can make his plays, because there's certain times that you have to stay on top, there's certain times that you can go and try to make a play," Norton described.
“So it's important for him to really understand when those moments are. But so far, you know, really like what we see.”
Like with Carroll, Norton’s Randall chatter was underpinned by the player’s durability issues this preseason.
“It's really good to see him put days after days together. Sometimes he would have a few days, then miss a day because of injury,” said Norton. “But the last week or so he's been able to really stack days.”
Randall may be putting it all together just in time. Reid’s arrival, however, still has the potential to act as a late shake-up to the cornerback room.
Firstly, the player’s character is something that the Seahawks coaching staff knew would mesh well with the Seattle culture.
“He had played for Tracy [Smith] in Houston, and so he has some background on him and we knew what kind of player we were getting, so it helps us out,” Carroll revealed to reporters on Tuesday.
The coach he was referring to is Seahawks assistant special teams coach Tracy Smith, who arrived from the Texans this offseason.
In terms of Reid’s skillset, Carroll provided a brief scouting report: "Steady, has played nickel, shows versatility, played inside and outside, got really good speed, been an active player.”
The tape shows Reid to be comfortable in a lot of the situations that the Seahawks’ scheme will place him in. The corner will be best in playing in press-bail cover 3 and off cover 3 techniques, where his speed and ability to transition in these positions will shine. He should be able to flash if targeted in these situations. As early as college, Reid was superb at playing on the half-turn and looking in at the quarterback.
Reid’s athletic ability and burst is obvious. There are also occasions where his quick short shuttle time flashes.
Reid’s press coverage featured a soft-shoe approach that Seattle does not coach. However, he also employed a mirror-step technique that the Seahawks do teach. He will have to learn the outside read step tool that Seattle requires its corners to use.
As is common with shorter corners, Reid struggles with his lack of length as it pertains to tackling. This is something we saw Brown experience difficulty with in the preseason. Randall opts for more of a bear hug approach. D.J. Reed benefits from having longer arms.
Here's a full film thread on Reid's 2021 preseason plays:
After a couple more days of watching Reid, Carroll's comments on Friday reflected excitement to see the new corner in action.
"He jumped on the scene, you know? He came out here and made a couple of plays the first day," said the Seahawks' head coach. "And he's hustling around. He's a real active, plays fast, and he's a smart kid, you can see it because he's picked things up very quickly already. So he's done a good job.
"Yeah, it will be really interesting to see him tomorrow night."
Reid faces a long shot playing from behind compared to the rest of the corners. However, as Norton said on Wednesday, “the competition is still out there. I don't think any decision has been made. But at the same time we have some really good players to choose from."
The 53-man roster cut deadline is scheduled for this Tuesday, August 31, at 1:00 p.m. PT. Saturday will be Reid’s shot to show he’s got enough to warrant an inclusion on the active roster. His chances would increase if Brown begins the season on injured reserve.
The Seahawks did carry five outside corners in 2020: Shaquill Griffin, Quinton Dunbar, Tre Flowers, Neiko Thorpe and Linden Stephens. Could 2021 be: Ahkello Witherspoon, D.J. Reed, Tre Flowers, Damarious Randall and John Reid?
Seattle having both Randall and Reid on the roster feels unlikely, especially given the bigger-bodied, longer Gavin Heslop has put together a solid preseason and shown the versatility to move inside and play nickel without looking out of place. Reid must beat Randall.
For those on the roster bubble, Saturday represents life-changing significance. Corner is a clear example.