Justin Reid is a Chief. What does he bring to the table?
Looking at what the Chiefs' new safety does well, where he can improve, and what he brings to a defense in need of a makeover
The first splash signing of free agency by Kansas City was somehow simultaneously unexpected and very predictable.
It wasn’t a defensive end, or a cornerback, or a wide receiver. Instead, it was a replacement for one of the most important players of the last three seasons.
By signing Reid, the Chiefs made clear (without actually saying it) that getting younger on defense is a priority, as well as getting at least one new body in a secondary that had stood pat for several consecutive years outside of Bashaud Breeland’s departure. It wasn’t the direction I expected them to go immediately, but makes a great deal of sense with the departure of Tyrann Mathieu (who was not made an offer from the Chiefs to come back, which is interesting).
The deal itself is a solid one for a young player with multiple good years behind him, with the Chiefs only guaranteeing $20 million over 3 years (which allows them some flexibility in structure). Reid, at 25 years old, is one of the more impressive overall athletes to be found at the safety position.
With that contract and the Chiefs not bringing back Mathieu, Reid will clearly be taking the lion’s share of the defensive snaps. And so of course, the question is what Reid brings to the table for a defense in need of help after a disappointing run down the stretch last season.
To try and figure this out, I reviewed 5 games of Reid’s tape from 2021 (Jacksonville, Buffalo, Indianapolis, L.A. Chargers, and San Francisco) that spanned the course of the entire season and consisted of games against multiple kinds of offensive systems. I also looked at some snaps from previous years. Throughout, I tried to find trends of what he does well, where there are question marks in his game, and an overall takeaway of what he brings to the defense.
As ever, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s what a player does OVER TIME that matters, not individual highlights. Any player at the NFL level who gets enough snaps will have at least a few highlights and at least a few lowlights. So keep in mind that the video clips here are meant to be demonstrative of what I saw on film throughout the games reviewed, not as proof of how good/bad a player Reid is. The goal isn’t to see what he does at his best or at his worst, but what he consistently brings to the table.
With that in mind, let’s talk Justin Reid, a player who brings a fresh skillset to Kansas City that’s worth getting excited about.
What Reid does well
Let’s start with the good because, let’s face it, that’s more fun. It’s also going to be a longer section with Reid, despite him coming off what is widely acknowledged as his worst season as a pro. It’s worth noting that in watching the Texans the lack of talent on their defensive roster was glaring, though they appeared to be well coached overall. It’s a near-certainty that affected Reid’s play, given the unique role of a safety.
First, Reid plays the way he tested, as a high-level athlete with superior range against both the pass and the run.
Reid lined up in a variety of places (we’ll talk more about that later), from in the box to deep in single or 2-high looks. He was able to provide run support when lined up deep even when having to cover a lot of ground, due to his acceleration and long speed (two different things, and it’s worth noting not every defender has both).