Free agency 2022: Chiefs’ Justin Reid brings aggression and play to defense

Three years after the Kansas City Chiefs signed free agent and former Houston Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year contract, the Chiefs signed former Texans safety Justin Reid to a contract Monday night. three years – effectively replacing Mathieu.

Kansas City’s first big signing of the 2022 offseason signals a transitional period for defensive leadership — even as defensive end Frank Clark is confirmed on the roster. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens and Mathieu both seem to be playing elsewhere, and the Chiefs’ youth movement is set to become the new core.

Reid, 25, is now an integral part of it; he will undoubtedly be one of the starting safeties for the 2022 season.

In this article, I will explain in more detail where he will play within the Chiefs defense:

The basics

Reid was initially picked near the top of the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, reflecting a strong college career at Stanford that ended as a second-team All-American. As a prospect, he achieved outstanding test results in the three-cone drill, the long jump and the 40-yard dash – where he posted a time of 4.40 seconds.

That speed at 6-foot-1 and around 205 pounds helped become Houston’s starting free safety for 53 of the 57 games he played there. Reid lined up as a free safety for 57% of his career snaps, with 26% of those being in the box and 12% from the slot as well; last season he lined up as a free safety for 70% of his snaps.

Where Reid Fits In

NFL: Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts

Marc Lebryk – USA TODAY Sports

Reid has the athletic and football IQ to play any position an NFL team will ask a safety to play – whether as a free safety, strong safety, slots defenseman or box player who can be an aid against the run or as a pass rusher.

He can play any of them competently, but his strengths would project him to play primarily as a free safety.

Playing downhill from a deep alignment

In 2021, the Texans had Reid as half of their two-tier safety rosters — but most of their one-tier looks also featured him as the only deep player. His speed on the ball and quick recognition of play allow him to always make an impact in front of him, even as a deep-lined defender.

Once Reid recognizes an outside run, he will fly down the lane and purposely fill in a running lane with good angle and tackle fundamentals. He shows the aggressiveness of putting as much of a shoulder into his tackles as possible, rather than being a drag tackler.

With a look from Cover 3, Reid patrols midfield.

Once he sees the short post route the wide receiver is going, he rolls the ball, takes a wide angle, and gets on the ball carrier too fast to be dodged. A solid tackle combined with momentum provides enough power to force the fumble.

He made a similar play against the Indianapolis Colts a few weeks later:

Coverage range

As Reid looks on as the game prepares for a play, he has shown his ability to cover a lot of ground defending middle and deep throws all the way through defense.

On that touchdown pass he technically clears, Reid still shows an example of the skill he brings as a deep safety — something Chiefs defenders in deep coverage situations have struggled mightily with in 2021.

The Cover 2 scheme puts Reid in a bind – covering two deep, vertical lanes himself. He naturally faces the inside road first, but as soon as he sees the quarterback moving onto the outside road, he gently rolls his hips, continues to gain depth vertically, and closes in on the receiver to deliver a big hit. However, the ball is caught – but Reid even being able to play on it is impressive.

His long speed to cover deep grounds also translates to being quick to get to the spot he needs. Here, Reid reacts immediately to the breaking route at the sticks; although it looked like miscommunication caused the receiver to stop dead in his tracks, Reid jumped the pass so well that it was likely intercepted in both directions.

Reid shows his ability to play the role of thief in the cover 1 ride, sneaking into the seam area just before the snap and waiting for the throw to the tight end – jumping it perfectly and cleanly but dropping the ball during the process.


No matter where Reid is lined up or what responsibility he’s loaded, he’ll be a strong-willed, solid tackler – collapsing and putting a shoulder in the legs of a running back, even a powerful runner like Kareem Hunt with a steamy header .

The bottom line

Reid has the speed, the change of direction and the football IQ to play anywhere the Chiefs want to play him – but that doesn’t mean he should be used to the high level of variety that Mathieu was.

Reid will give the Chiefs a capable starter at one of two traditional starting safety positions and should be a crucial part of the defense of the deep passing game that has become even more important, with Russell Wilson now quarterback for the Chiefs. Denver Broncos.

It shouldn’t be locked into a specific role, but it should also be used intelligently; he’s not the same type of defender that Mathieu might be from the slot or just in general. Overall, Reid has the characteristics of a starter that will rarely give fans reason to complain about his game.