Continuing the countdown of the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, let’s break down the 18th best player in linebacker Brooks Reed.
To read about the methodology in how these rankings came about, you can click here.
Total Score: 59/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 56/100
Teams he is starter: 20 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 3 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 29 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +2
Positional Bonus: +3
The biggest free-agent signing of the Falcons 2015 season if judging by the size of contracts was none other than Reed.
The team signed him to a five-year deal worth over $22.5 million, far outpacing the next largest contract given to fellow linebacker Justin Durant, which was a three-year deal worth less than half that amount.
Such an expenditure indicates that the team has big plans for Reed, including him being plugged in immediately as the team’s starting strong-side linebacker.
Reed will be making a transition to a 4-3 defense for the first time his playing days at the University of Arizona. There, he was a highly productive defensive end, totaling 16.5 sacks over his final three season as a starter. Drafted by the Houston Texans in 2010, Reed spent the entirety of his four years there playing outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme.
After a promising rookie year where he totaled six sacks filling in for an injured Mario Williams, Reed failed to capitalize on his starting opportunities in subsequent years as a pass-rusher. Over the past three years, he’s combined for just 8.5 sacks.
But while Reed never showed the sort of pass-rushing prowess he displayed as a rookie in the years since, he has developed in other ways. He’s become a more effective run-defender and has improved in coverage as well.
Those skills will suit him in Atlanta, where he’ll be asked to play in space quite a bit in Dan Quinn’s zone-heavy defensive scheme. Reed will set the edge against the run and occasionally provide some heat a blitzer off the corner, where he’ll find some familiarity from his days as a Texan. His physical, high-energy playing style will fit perfectly in with Quinn.
Despite a decent-sized contract, Reed isn’t likely to set the world on fire as a Falcon. He won’t get the eye-popping splash plays anymore here in Atlanta than he did in Houston. But like his days as a Texan, Reed will be an integral piece in this Falcons defense.
For a unit looking for more consistency from its linebacker position, Reed is more than capable of providing it.