Heaps: Why D.J. Reed is key for how Seahawks’ defense progresses
The Seahawks’ defense had a rollercoaster 2020, starting the year as one of the worst defenses in the league before playing like one of the NFL’s best over the second half of the season.
Whether the defense looks like it did the first half of the season or the second half remains to be seen, and there’s a chance that the defense when it comes to talent gets worse this offseason due to impending free agents.
But one player who will be back in the fold is cornerback D.J. Reed, who was perhaps the Seahawks’ most surprising impact player in 2020. Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy said that Reed, more than any member of Seattle’s defense next year, is the key to that unit progressing in 2021.
“He was a big reason why that defense really started to come into its own and you had somebody that was there to complement Shaquill Griffin,” Heaps said. “We don’t know if Shaquill Griffin is going to be back or not. Most likely not, so that means there’s a lot more pressure on D.J. Reed to step up and continue to play and improve the way that he did (over) the second half of the season.”
Griffin, 26 in July, was a third-round pick in 2017 and is a one-time Pro Bowler. He is hitting free agency for the first time and he will likely fetch a large salary on the open market.
Reed, 24, just finished his first season with the Seahawks and appeared in 10 games, recording two interceptions, seven pass deflections, two fumble recoveries, 62 tackles and two tackles for loss. Seattle got Reed off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted Reed in the fifth round in 2018. After playing as a nickel corner, Reed started playing outside cornerback for the Seahawks and started eight games at the position. His presence as an outside cornerback coincided with the Seahawks’ dramatic improvement on defense.
“(He played) confident, had swagger and I think he brings a lot of the same attitude and style of play that they are looking for to play Seahawks-style football,” Heaps said.
Another reason to keep an eye on Reed? He’s not the prototypical Seahawks outside cornerback. Since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over in 2010, Seattle has focused on playing cornerbacks who are at least 6-feet tall who have 32-inch arms. Reed is 5-foot-9 and his arms are just over 31 inches long.
“He’s undersized, not the typical player they go for on the outside out on the edge,” Heaps said.
Despite not fitting that mold, Heaps is excited about the prospect of Reed being a key member of the Seahawks’ defense to start the 2021 season.
“I think D.J. Reed is going to be a big factor in how good this defense can really be heading into 2021,” he said.
Listen to the segment at this link or in the player below.