I know what you’re thinking, it’s far too early for this. When the calendar switches from November to December, I start my scouting journey.
I can’t travel around the US and meet these guys (as much as I’d love to), so I have to rely on as much tape as I can find and I’m thankful that a lot of schools send me tape to study.
At this time of the year, I focus my attention on smaller school prospects who will be available in the middle or later rounds. There is less information on them, so I’m less likely to be influenced by things I’ve read. I also want to see how the top guys from the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama and Georgia do during bowl season and college playoffs. If you’re spending a high pick on a guy, you need to know how they handle pressure situations and big game environments.
Today I’m starting with Middle Tennessee’s all-time tackler, Reed Blankenship.
When I’m looking at a player I tend to divide the report into three sections. Positives, negatives, and notes. I write it all down in a little book and I have these dating back to when I first joined Gang Green Nation in 2009. It’s a little old-school but I’m a creature of habit. Anyway, let's get into Reed’s report:
Age: 22, Class: Senior, HT/WT: 6’1/204lbs
2021: 106 Tackles, 10 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 INT
2020: 76 Tackles, 1 TFL, 0 Sack, 0 INT
Career: 415 Tackles, 26.5 TFL, 3 Sack, 9 INT
- Excellent speed
- Constantly making plays at the line of scrimmage
- Instincts and nose for the ball are elite
- Works through traffic well
- + Tackler, drives through the ball carrier
- Physical, not afraid of contact
- + Length
- Shows good communication, directs secondary
- Sheds blocks of wide receivers, tough to lock up one on one
- Shows an excellent break on the ball
- + Range
- Has a tendency to over pursue. Plays 100mph but that’s sometimes detrimental.
- A few missed tackles on tape due to the above.
- Inconsistent angles when coming down from playing deep.
- Can get caught looking in the backfield when back in coverage, losing a player in zone.
- Has a tendency to bite on misdirection.
- Coverage is still a question mark. Plays more at the line, can make plays deep and in both man and zone which is evidenced by 9 pass deflections in 2021, but not 100% sold.
- Hands don’t seem to be as good now as they were earlier in his career. Gets to the ball, doesn’t always complete it.
- Lined up as a single high, two deep, at the line and in the box.
- When he slows down a little bit and shows patience, he eliminates the missed tackles and still makes the play on the ball.
- Two forced fumbles in 2021, does a really good job getting his helmet on the football and jarring it out.
- Always seems to be around the ball, leading career tackler at Middle Tennessee and recovered three fumbles in 2021 alone.
- Voted a team captain in 2021, 2020 and 2019 as well as being named a team captain in High School for two years.
Reed is one of my favourite prospects in the draft, there’s something about his game that I absolutely love, it’s the instincts + range + speed combination. There are some flaws in his game, the problem with overpursuing will scare some people, but you watch enough tape and you’ll see as the season progressed he became more patient, the over pursuit problem diminished and the missed tackles disappeared. I think he’d be a great special teamer to start his career and will become an NFL starter in the right system, I think our system suits his game.
Projected Round: 4th-5th Round
Games studied: Monmouth, Virginia Tech, UTSA, Charlotte and Marshall
Video: All video provided by Middle Tennessee Football