Good NFL teams hit on the first few picks of their draft more often than not year-in and year-out. The great teams, however, also manage to nail their day three picks more consistently than the rest of the competition. Managing to find impact players among the weeds is one of the best ways for NFL teams to get better at an accelerated pace. It also allows them better cap flexibility in the future when players making the league minimum are getting the job done over veterans making twice or three times as much.
The Chargers look to have one or two of these types of players from this year’s draft class. If you are Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski, then you believe that player for the Bolts is wide receiver and kick returner Joe Reed.
After being drafted in the fifth round, Reed told reporters that he was going to be utilized in a variety of ways on offense, on top of competing for return duties. He’ll obviously see time at wide receiver but just like he was utilized at UVA, you may see Reed line up in the backfield with Austin Ekeler and receiver a carry or two. At 6’0 and 220 pounds, Reed is built similarly to the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel and he will likely be used in the same way.
Reed adds the same type of versatility that Ekeler originally brought to this offense. It’s the same kind that forced the hand of the Chargers coaching staff and made them find more ways to get him the ball. Being able to line up in a variety of formations with the same personnel gives an offense and edge over the defense in that they don’t have to substitute players on and off as much. They can catch defenses in heavier personnel when they come out with two backs and a tight end but due to their players, the Bolts can audible to empty sets and spread everything out like that.
“If the Chargers are truly creative, the 2019 Jet Award winner can come in and serve in a similar role as Cordarrelle Patterson, Percy Harvin or Josh Cribbs,” Sobleski said. “He may never be a full-time wide receiver, yet he can impact a game through a variety of roles.”
During his four seasons with the Virginia Cavaliers, Reed accumulated 1,465 receiving yards, 172 rushing yards, 3,042 kick return yards and 22 total touchdowns, including five on special teams. He left Virginia as the only player in college football history to record over 3,000 yards on kick returns while averaging over 26 yards per return. His career-average was 28.7. That’s pretty gnarly.
If Reed becomes the star we all think he can be on special teams, then his contributions on offense won’t need to be as spectacular for him to be viewed as a draft diamond. For the team’s sake, I hope it’s both, but some consistency on returns would be welcomed with very, very open arms.