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Chargers 90-in-90: WR Joe Reed

Can Reed claw his way back into a role?

NFL: JAN 03 Chargers at Chiefs Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Joe Reed was born and raised in the small town of Charlotte Court House, Virginia where he starred for Randolph-Henry High School as a receiver, running back, and safety. Coming out of school, Reed was rated a three-star prospect by ESPN and Rivals.com and committed to play his college ball at in-state Virginia.

During his freshman season, Reed played mainly on special teams where he returned 27 kicks for 678 yards. As a receiver, he caught just four passes for 77 yards.

As a sophomore in 2017, he was used as an offensive utility weapon when he caught 23 passes for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also rushing 21 times for 112 yards and another score. On kick return, he averaged over 29 yards per return and scored the first two return touchdowns of his career.

He took a big step forward as a receiver in 2018 when he caught 25 passes for 465 yards and a career-best seven touchdowns. He also set school records for career kick-return yards and touchdowns that same year.

As a senior in 2019, Reed posted his best season by far with 77 catches for 679 yards and another seven touchdowns. He also returned 24 kickoffs for 796 yards and brought two back for scores. He was named a Third-Team All-ACC selection in ‘18 and made the First Team in ‘19.

Reed was selected by the Chargers in the fifth round of the 2020 draft in hopes that he would be a quick fix to the team’s lackluster return game.

As a rookie, Reed began the year as the team’s starting kick returner and broke of a season-long 46-yard return to help the team beat the Bengals in week one. He finished the year without a reception, but he did take five hand-offs for 29 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Basic Info

Height: 6’0
Weight: 224
College: Virginia
Experience: 1
Years with team: 1

Contract Status

“Joe Reed signed a 4 year, $3,635,308 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $340,308 signing bonus, $340,308 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $908,827. In 2021, Reed will earn a base salary of $780,000, while carrying a cap hit of $865,077 and a dead cap value of $255,231.” - Spotrac.com

The Good

Reed has all the makeup of a useful gadget player in the NFL. He’s built like a sizable running back and has the strength to run through arm tackles. As a receiver, he’s strong at the catch point and can outmuscle corners on short routes and intermediate routes. In the end, I still believe he has what it takes to make a difference on special teams as the traits that made him wildly successful there in college didn’t just disappear.

The Bad

By the end of his rookie season, Reed was at the bottom of the depth chart for wideouts and wasn’t always a lock to be active on game days. His inexperience as an all-around route runner is what kept him from seeing the field in any way other than a ball-carrier.

After starting the year as the team’s kick returner, Reed eventually lost the job to Nasir Adderley and others after the team decided to go a different route in hopes of creating a spark on special teams.

Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2021?

Reed will really have to fight this training camp to make sure he sticks on the initial 53-man roster. As things stand, he’s currently seventh on the depth. Fellow 2020 draft pick K.J. Hill is already ahead of him as both a wideout and return man, which really lands a blow to Reed’s value to the team. If the former Virginia standout wants to maximize his chances of sticking around, he’ll have to carve out a role on special teams similar to that of longtime Patriot Matthew Slater. If not, I’m not sure where he fits on this roster going forward.