Historically, the Bills have drafted a player who visited them pre-draft with their first-round pick. Leading up to the draft, we'll be looking at key visitors for Buffalo, to see who makes sense for them at No. 19 overall.
Here, we're examining Jarran Reed, a defensive tackle from Alabama.
Reed had a roundabout path to find himself in Tuscaloosa. Originally from Goldsboro, North Carolina, Reed attended a year at Hargrave Military Academy before beginning his college education. Grades have been a struggle with Reed. He wanted to immediately jump to a Division I program after leaving Hargrave, but with low grades, he had to settle for a community college. Reed spent two years at East Mississippi Community College, and once his grades improved enough, as a four-star recruit, he chose to join Alabama.
During the summer of 2014, before playing a single down for the Crimson Tide, Reed was arrested for a DUI. After working his way back into Nick Saban's good graces, Reed immediately found playing time on a talented defensive line in 2014, and when the season was over, he decided to return to school for the 2015 season. In four seasons of football, Reed collected 6.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss.
He recently had a child, the timing of which forced a previously-planned trip to One Bills Drive to be re-scheduled as a dinner more local for Reed.
What we're mainly working with here is a run-defending nose tackle. I say mainly, because I do think Reed can be more than that, but Alabama limited his role on the field due to his skill set and the massive depth of talent around him. Standing at 6'3" and weighing 307 pounds, Reed has good arm length and a body that projects to a few different defensive line positions. He's not the best athlete, as his 5.21-second 40-yard dash would suggest, but he had a nice 31-inch vertical leap and is only a bit below-average in most athletic metrics.
Run defense and block shedding
This is where Reed shines. In a draft that features some powerful players at the position, Reed may be the best run defender of them all. Reed is strong from his arms, through his torso, down to his legs. He's very difficult to move off the ball, and usually is pushing his opponents backwards. Reed has huge hands and generates impressive power in them, making him very capable of managing a double team throughout the game.
What elevates him above a player like Andrew Billings is his vision and control. Reed does an excellent job tracking the ball and understanding where a run is flowing. He coordinated very well with A'Shawn Robinson to plug up running lanes, something Alabama's defensive rushing stats can attest to. He plays with his feet under him, and uses his arms to make plenty of tackles. Basically, he's a vacuum with a five-foot suction radius.
Pass rush refinement and creativity
Here's the thing with Reed: Alabama's defense almost always had him set up as the nose tackle, controlling two blockers and spying the quarterback without ever rushing. If you're looking for his pass rushing highlight reel, you're going to be searching for a long time.
That doesn't mean he can't do it. Reed was so good at his two-gap role, and guys like Tim Williams and Jonathan Allen were playing so well, that there was no reason to ask him to rush. Reed's strength gives him a natural bull rush, and he has a surprisingly fast straight-line burst that can close quickly on a quarterback. That said, that bull rush is all he has right now. Reed doesn't have any secondary moves, and his overall quickness is more of what you see from the average one-technique nose tackle than from a natural pass rusher. Given his meager college production, the best you can hope for from Reed is a Marcus Stroud type career: 29 sacks in 10 seasons.
Fluidity in space
Put Reed out on the edge, and he's going to lose some battles. He doesn't have the natural agility to chase players to the sideline. Where Reed excels is his fluidity and body control within the tackle box. He does a great job of keeping linemen in front of him, can naturally reach out his arms to snag a runner going by, and moves the pile with aplomb. In terms of players who can manipulate what's happening between the tackles, Reed is one of the best in this class.
Out of the defensive linemen we've connected with the Bills, Reed may be unfairly labeled "unathletic." The truth is somewhat there, but Reed has the build and football skill to excel at multiple defensive line positions in spite of his mediocre athletic numbers. That's what makes Reed more valuable than your typical two-down nose tackle: while he's purely a run defender, he's athletic enough to line up in multiple spots, allowing the Bills to overload the line in different ways and generate confusion. The Bills attended a dinner with Reed over the weekend after missing out on is pre-draft visit, and it's clear why they're interested - he'd give them an ox in the trench.