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When the Ravens selected Jah Reid in the third round of the NFL Draft, most people were asking themselves who the obscure prospect was.
While he is still a relatively unknown commodity in Baltimore, his collegiate coach, George O’Leary, is acutely aware of his former players’ abilities and believes Reid should be able to contribute on opening day.
“I think the big thing is to be patient in his pass protection and bend better in his knees, but I think he can do it,” O’Leary told BaltimoreRavens.com. “I’ve coached in the NFL for many years [San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings], and Jah can play at right tackle. He’ll put a body on a body. He’s only going to get better as he progresses.
“I think he’s a guy that can help you in the fall.”
Though not the household name that some of the other bigger-school tackle prospects were, Reid’s track record against Conference USA competition stood out.
Reid started 41 games – including 33 in a row – and earned All-Conference honors his final two years at UCF.
In addition, UCF was one of only two schools in the nation (Wisconsin) to have three backs rush for at least 10 touchdowns in 2010, with many of them coming behind Reid on the right side.
“It didn’t surprise me when he went,” O’Leary said of the Ravens’ selection. “I think there was a lot of interest from a lot of teams coming to work him out. I still think his future is ahead of him. He was a dominant player down here at right tackle, and he really takes coaching well.”
Reid’s addition could properly solidify the Ravens’ line.
Last year, Jared Gaither’s back injury made Baltimore push Marshal Yanda to right tackle, which was not his natural position of guard.
But if Reid can step in to the tackle spot, Yanda could shift back inside and Michael Oher could stick at left tackle.
The biggest issue pundits claim with Reid is a percieved lack of a mean streak. Some scouting reports have said that Reid isn’t the aggressive mauler teams typically want at right tackle.
O’Leary doesn’t think those criticisms are fair.
“Why don’t you do me a favor and go punch him in the mouth and see what happens?” O’Leary said. “I spoke to a bunch of people about that, and all I know is I’ve seen him in action and I don’t want to fight him. “He’s a tough guy who’s never missed a play. He’s going to do what he needs to to succeed.”
O’Leary said Reed’s drive is a big reason why he thinks the prospect can compete at the NFL level.
Reid’s athletic ability was evident from the beginning, but he was raw and weighed 370 pounds as a freshman.
Benefitting from UCF’s conditioning program, Reid reshaped his body into a relatively svelte 325 pounds. Coupled with long arms, durability, quickness and strength, and the Ravens may have selected their right tackle of the future.
“He came from a [high school] program where they didn’t work real hard. When he got to campus, we set up some high hurdles, and he jumped over each one without a problem,” said O’Leary. “I said, ‘He’s too athletic not to take him for our program.’ He worked hard to get his weight down and make himself into a real player.
“I know we’re talking about the best of the best defensive ends, but I think he’s going to contribute.”