We've been running a series so far about certain prospects vs. Justin Blackmon. Today, I'm going to be taking a look at Riley Reiff as an option for the Rams first pick. Is he worth it at #6? Debatable. But you could say the same for Justin Blackmon, so I'm not going to go into some deep look at the definition of value here.
After the jump, I'll take a look at Riley Reiff's strengths and weaknesses. Would he be a fit for the Rams? Hit it and find out.
Thanks to my new-founded ESPN Insider account, I'm going to go ahead and use some insider information on how Reiff is projected to pan out in the NFL.
First off, they talk about his effort. He was highly regarded by his peers for his work ethic, winning the team's hustle award for offense in 2010 and Iowa's "Next Man In Award" in 2009. Let's put it this way: there are no links between him and Alex Barron. That's a great thing. Check one off for Reiff.
Being asked to fill in as a left tackle, which is quickly becoming a marquee position, is no easy task. But given Reiff's high motor, it would seem reasonable to assume that he'd be able to improve with time.
But now it's time for the bread and butter. How does Reiff fare as a pass protector?
Above average athleticism and core strength, but is not elite in either area. Shows good balance for size and can mirror defenders. Quick enough to protect the edge when footwork is sound and appears to play with longer arms than measurable indicate.
He has things he can work on here, specifically how he gets a little high sometimes in his blocking and how he's had some balance issues. That doesn't do any good to Sam Bradford's health. Is he worth it as a value standpoint as the 6th pick? I'm going to ignore that word, again, and move onto how Reiff would fare as Steven Jackson's left-hand man:
Does a very good job with his angles and almost always establishes good initial positioning in Iowa's zone-blocking scheme. Consistently drives legs after initial contact. Can get under defenders and drive them off the ball when keeps pads down, but needs to be more consistent in this area. Has big, strong hands to steer.
Now that's a little better- we're thrown a 'very good' right off the bat. Once again, Reiff grades out well, but not incredibly well, as a run blocker. He's better in this regard than in pass protection, which is why some view him as more of a right tackle. However, Reiff is good enough in this regard (according to the opinion of your's truly) to be worth it as the 6th pick. There goes my resistance against the word 'value'.
Lastly, a word on his toughness:
Has developed more of a mean streak. Flashes tenacity and toughness to put defenders on their back. Covers downfield and gets under defender's skin. Showed more aggressiveness as a junior than he did in previous seasons.
This is much better. The Rams really need some fire on the offense. There isn't anything I like more than an angry lineman, at least until you have to square off against them. This is exactly what I'd want in a left tackle.
In the end, Reiff is a very good prospect- but he isn't elite. With the proper coaching (something we haven't seen for the offensive line in quite a while), he could be a stalwart addition to the line. Is he worth it as the sixth pick? Maybe not. But if Justin Blackmon isn't either, consider Reiff for a nice long look as someone the Rams should draft at number six.