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2019 NFL Draft Interview: Presenting Malik Reed, Nevada’s star pass rusher

Meet the sleeper EDGE rusher who picked up steam at the NFLPA Bowl

NCAA Football: Nevada at Air Force Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When looking for pass rushers, this class is extremely deep and robust in that aspect. There is a dynamic top and even dynamic depth.

Day 3, at EDGE specifically, you look for those gems that can turn into good football players. Malik Reed is one of those players that many draftniks are on after his fantastic week at the NFLPA game.

Reed sat down with Behind the Steel Curtain to give us an in-depth view of the player he is and what type of player the Steelers will be getting if they draft him.

Nick: You recently competed at the NFLPA game and you were a huge standout. How was that experience?

MR: It was a great experience. I was competing against some of the best players nation. To have that opportunity was incredible. I also learnt a ton from the coaches there who have been doing this stuff for a long time. I retained information I was taught there and I’m going forward with it.

Nick: You met with 16 teams at the NFLPA bowl, what do you hope you left them?

MR: I hope they got an understanding of who I was. Scouts asked me in depth questions about what type of person and player I was and I wanted to relay myself accurately to them. I wanted to show a guy who will be a team player and boost a team. I really wanted them to see that I had the ability to work hard and improve each and every day.

Nick: As a DE who turned into an OLB this year, how do you think those are different?

MR: It depends on the scheme. I was usually on the edge. As a DE it is more reactionary, it is all in your face. You can see everything better. Being an OLB, if you walk down the ball it isn’t that different aside from using more bend around the edge. Being off ball was the biggest challenge. I had to read the stances and process things longer. Learning coverage was also a challenge. I never had to move in space like that and cover these guys, but I got better at it throughout the season. As I did it, I felt like I did a good job.

Nick: If a team asked you to play a hybrid role with OBL in it, what would you say to that?

MR: I am welcome to whatever the coaches want me to do. If that means playing at a spot that I am less comfortable at, so be it. No matter how small the role, I want to play and I’ll do what I can to make an impact and I’ll be willing to sit, learn, and go out there to execute.

Nick: You have an insane first step. What goes into having that fantastic break off the ball?

MR: The weight room and the football field meet there. I worked on my explosion and quickness and not being satisfied with where I am. You always have to improve even your strengths and I focus on explosiveness and quickness a lot. I also try to improve with timing snaps and reading stances so I can play that fast.

Nick: With leverage and your hands, you use it well. Your hands are violent, explain how you use your hands on every play?

MR: It is a combat of going one-on-one with an Offensive Lineman. The coaches have told me you have to be great with your hands in order to be great. You know, you see elite pass rusher and they are great with their hands. Every guy you go up against is different and you have to watch the tape for tendencies. You are gonna have to defeat him with counters and see where he is trying to strike. I have to be quicker and shrug him off. So, the more moves I have, the better.

Nick: Bend was apparent in your game. How did you develop such amazing bend?

MR: After doing drills like the hoop drill and from going at the passer at DE, the bend was naturally already there. I kept working the same things and I did it on my own to keep it sharp. Beating tackles and bending, that’s half the battle, and I’m looking to really get to the QB. I want to finish the job, not just pressure him.

Nick: At your pro day, what do you wanna show scouts?

MR: I want to show them I can run, move well in space, jump well, and show that I can move at OLB. I want all that athletic testing to really be solid. But most importantly, I want to be clean in my drops and answer all questions about my coverage ability.

Nick: Where are you most comfortable at right now, DE or OLB?

MR: I am comfortable with either. I have gotten snaps all around, but from feedback I have received, the NFL sees me as a SAM 4-3 ILB that can rush the passer, but can drop back in coverage as well. I have a ton of experience working against lineman obviously. That’s why I feel comfortable rushing the passer, but I feel like I can drop into coverage as well. Besides, the more versatile you are, the more valuable you are. So I’m working hard on it all.

Nick: What is the biggest part of your game you’re working on?

MR: Coverage for sure. I need to be more comfortable with my drops and moving in space. Understanding zones and reading the QBs eyes is still coming to me.

Nick: If a team drafts Malik Reed, what type of player will they be getting?

MR: They are going to get somebody that is ready to play and a guy that is ready to work. I want to be successful and accomplish everything that I have dreamed of accomplishing. I want to help make the team successful and use my gifts that God gave me to be successful. Any team that drafts me is going to get a relentless worker who is going to a team player. I want to improve myself and my team.