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Reed Blankenship

Preseason Scouting Notes: Reed Blankenship, S, Middle Tennessee

Senior | 6’1″ 196 lbs | Athens, AL | March 2, 1999

 

An aggressive safety who enjoys contact and possesses good versatility, change of direction ability, and an exceptional motor

 

Overview:

Reed Blankenship enters his final season at Middle Tennessee as a strong safety in MTSU’s 4-3 scheme. He has experience playing as a high safety, manning up in the slot, and buzzing into the box while playing a mix of both man and zone coverage schemes. He has been named to the All-Conference USA team in some fashion every year he has been with the program, and even an injury shortened 2019 could not keep him off of the Second Team. The former 3-star cornerback recruit has a long history of production for the Blue Raiders, and looks to continue that in 2020 as he attempts to rise up draft boards before April 29, 2021 rolls around.

Strengths:

– Versatility to line up all over the field. Has lined up in the box and the slot in addition to over the top as a high safety
– Zone discipline. Maintains positioning as the deepest man and keeps receivers in front of him
– Fluid hips that allow him to change direction quickly and easily
– Is not afraid to man up on tight ends and has the physicality to do so
– Willing participant against the run. Not afraid of contact and plays behind his pads
– Fills the alley hard and gets downhill fast and aggressively
– Good pre-snap communication skills
– High motor and gives max effort through the whistle on every play

Areas to improve:

– Form tackling. Tendency to play like a human wrecking ball rather than wrapping up and driving through ball carriers
– Block shedding is not a strength. Flashes the ability to break free cleanly but does not do so consistently
– Overall range is limited due to his straight line speed being merely sufficient
– Closing speed to the receiver once the ball is in the air
– Needs to be more disruptive at the catch point. Will be in position to break up passes but will not
– Ball skills are sufficient but has had some drops and most interceptions are the result of deflections
– Will occasionally take over aggressive angles in pursuit

Injury Concerns:

– Missed last 5 games of 2019 with a lower leg injury
– Missed 2019 spring practices after offseason surgery

Projection:

Blankenship has the makings of a capable strong safety in the NFL. He will fit best in a zone heavy defensive scheme where he can play play deep and read the QB. Faster receivers will be a challenge for him in man coverage, but he can handle tight ends at a sufficient level when he is needed to do so. His ability to support the run in addition to defend the pass will make him a useful piece for thin NFL secondaries looking to fill gaps. Teams that favor zone coverage and need run support on the back end will find him available on late Day 2 or early Day 3.

What to watch in 2020:

Blankenship will need to remain healthy and put together a full season on the level of the one he was on track for in 2019. From a technical perspective, one major area to improve is his form tackling and paying under control without sacrificing his aggression against ball carriers. Doing so will cut down on missed tackles which will be key at the next level.  Becoming more disruptive at the catch point will also be something to watch, as he already puts himself in position to do so but doesn’t follow through. Taking better pursuit angles will be key as well so as to avoid giving up the big play. Finally, creating more turnovers and generating more havoc plays will help him send his name up NFL draft boards.


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