Next man up is a series of articles examining players further down the depth chart, particularly young players being developed for larger roles.
This time, we complete our review of defensive tackle Caraun Reid.
For the first article in this series, see Next man up: Caraun Reid (Part one).
For the second article in this series, see Next man up: Caraun Reid (Part two).
On the original bill of sale that Caraun Reid came with in the fifth round, we were supposed to be getting a high energy guy that did not give up in pursuit. This has absolutely been the case with Reid, who keeps coming and re-routes well. To begin, let's take a look at two pass rush situations on the road in Green Bay. I know this is stretching the definition of "early," but these examples are just too good to turn down.
2015 at GBY, 1Q (0:30). Third-and-7 at the Green Bay 23.
From an Empty Gun set, the Packers are behind schedule and need a medium distance completion to move the sticks. Detroit takes the field with a nickel package, sending 55 MLB Stephen Tulloch and 59 OLB Tahir Whitehead out with the usual starters (at this point including 24 CB Nevin Lawson for injured 31 CB Rashean Mathis) and 30 CB Josh Wilson as the fifth defensive back. Across the front we have 94 RDE Ziggy Ansah, 97 DT Caraun Reid, 92 DT Haloti Ngata, and 91 LDE Jason Jones.
The initial rush move by Reid is to the inside, trying to slice inside of Second Team All-Pro 71 LG Josh Sitton. That move is countered by 63 C Corey Linsley, who throws a side punch to help Sitton regain the angle on Reid. But Reid doesn't give up, and reverses to roll judo style with Sitton's effort to turn him outside.
Before you move on, look at that again and take note of where the referee in the lower left is standing. Okay good, now let's check out what happens.
With nobody open downfield and the pocket collapsing, 12 QB Aaron Rodgers tries to escape to the left through the break between Ziggy and Reid. Although both are being "impeded," Reid manages to break free and takes a good enough angle to trip up Rodgers to force a punt.
No holding penalty was called on the play. I'm pretty sure we would have declined it and taken the 1-yard loss sack by Reid anyway.
2015 at GBY, 3Q (0:52). Second-and-9 at the Green Bay 9.
Once again deep in their own territory, the Packers come out in a 2x2 Shotgun formation, looking for decent yards to set up a manageable third-down play. Detroit counters nickel again, this time with Ziggy, Reid, 90 DT Gabe Wright, and Jones across the front.
Reid attacks inside against Sitton and pushes him back hard. The horizontal pink line in the screenshot above is the original line of scrimmage at the 9, and Reid is riding Sitton five yards deep into the pocket. This forces Rodgers to pull the ball down and escape right. Reid continues pursuit all the way to the sideline to cut off any opportunity for Rodgers to reverse field.
Thanks to Reid flushing Rodgers from the pocket, Jones picks up a sack to set up third-and-long. No holding penalty was called on the play, in case anyone was wondering.
2015 MIN, 3Q (13:04). Second-and-10 at the Minnesota 49.
The play here is a WR screen to 11 WR Mike Wallace with slot receiver 17 WR Jarius Wright and flexed 82 TE Kyle Rudolph lead blocking on the perimeter. Take a look here at a shot of the initial alignment and an inset crop showing where the play ends (I have circled the "50" on the field as a reference point). Notice where Reid starts and where he ends up.
28 CB Quandre Diggs manages to evade the initial block by Rudolph to stall Wallace, but somehow Caraun Reid runs all the way up to make the tackle for a 1-yard loss. This is outstanding effort to make sure the play goes nowhere.
2015 at SEA, 3Q (12:02). Second-and-4 at the Detroit 33.
Our last pursuit play example is on the road in Seattle against a funky screen pass. Reid gets only a token shove by 64 RG JR Sweezy, who leaks out to the flat. 34 HB Thomas Rawls is slow to come off a chip on 93 DT Tyrunn Walker, forcing 3 QB Russell Wilson to wait an extra beat. Reid takes advantage of this, diagnosing the screen and rushing up into Wilson's face.
Reid keeps Wilson off-balance by driving him backwards then angling to get Wilson to twist his body, resulting in a bad floater of a throw to Rawls. The extra backpedal and zipless throw gives the rest of the defense time to diagnose the action and get in position: 32 SS James Ihedigbo moves up and brings Rawls down for a 1-yard loss on the play.
Dat Swim Move
Oh yeah, I said we'd see that sick overarm swim move again. Reid can often force mistakes by quickly slanting inside like we saw with the stunts and the inside attacks against the Packers. Another way he draws holds (whether they are called or not) is applying that quickness to block shedding moves.
2015 DEN, 1Q (2:14). First-and-10 at Detroit 36.
It's a blur in this GIF, but I swear it's in there. I even upped the frames per second on this and it's still hard to see -- that's how fast it is. If you have NFL Game Pass, go back and look at the play. Sure, we get torched by 10 WR Emmanuel Sanders on a crossing route for 10 yards, but this is still a fantastic rush move.
Here we have Caraun Reid at the 1-tech for a change, between 61 C Matt Paradis and 65 RG Louis Vasquez. Instead of hitting the A gap in front of him, though, Reid crosses Paradis' face and hits the other A gap. Paradis screws up by hopping to his right at the snap to move closer to Vasquez, trying to guess he will have to block off the right A gap in front of where Reid is lined up. When Reid instead goes to the left A gap and whips his arm up and over, there's really not much Paradis can do but pray he is hidden enough that he doesn't get called for anything.
How quick and agile is this guy? Let's check in with Kent:
@kyleclerc @PrideOfDetroit He was sometimes referred to as a lesser version of Donald. Donald elite, Reid abv. avg. pic.twitter.com/cEc61svyHL— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 3, 2016
@kyleclerc @PrideOfDetroit The Reid comparisons were more due to the fact they were both undersized and 'penetrating' types of DTs.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 3, 2016
What's the Verdict?
In case you avoided the spoiler from before, I think Caraun Reid is growing into a solid player and will get a good split of time with Walker this year at the 3-technique DT spot. In 2015, Reid played more than 25 snaps in all 16 games. For each of the last three regular season games, he was on the field for more than two-thirds of all defensive snaps.
No, he's not a miracle Ndamukong Suh clone from the fifth round or a direct Aaron Donald substitute. He's not dominating every snap in every situation, but I really cannot recall seeing him get dominated or make bad mistakes. At times, I'd see a DT get blown back off the line and go to another angle to check the number. Sure enough, it would be someone else. Reid seems to reliably give decent levels of play with the occasional super play.
That's tremendous value for a fifth-round pick that shows a nice development cycle like Devin Taylor –- Reid progressed from token snaps in 2014 (about 110) to the regular rotation in 2015 (about 550) and now a realistic shot at starting (700+ perhaps?).