NFL Draft: Bears Could Nab Late-Round Safety With Ties to Roquan Smith

Georgia safety J.R. Reed Chicago Bears

Getty Safety J.R. Reed of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Is it possible Georgia could be on Ryan Pace’s mind once again when the 2020 NFL Draft rolls around? The Chicago Bears‘ GM has drafted four Bulldogs since he took over as general manager in 2015: recently released linebacker Leonard Floyd, wide receivers Javon Wims and Riley Ridley, and current starting linebacker Roquan Smith. Based on his team’s current needs coupled with its draft picks in the upcoming draft, Pace and company will need to strike gold frequently with the draft picks they possess.

The Bears currently hold two picks in the second round, the 43rd and 50th overall selections. The heft of their selections come in the later rounds. They have a fifth rounder (No. 163 overall), two sixth rounders (196 and 200) and two seventh round picks (226 and 233 overall). They’ll need to address their offensive line and tight end positions, and they could also go after a quarterback. Additionally, Chicago could be shopping for a safety and cornerback to add depth — and they could wind up finding All-Pro Eddie Jackson’s counterpart in the later rounds if they’re lucky.

Georgia’s J.R. Reed Would Be Great Fit for Bears Defense

Georgia safety J.R. Reed has started 42 games in his three seasons in college. He wasn’t a huge play-maker; he had five interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in his three years with the Bulldogs, but the Bears already have a ballhawk in Jackson. What they need is a box safety who can tackle well and cover the run skillfully — and that’s Reed to a ‘T.’

Reed has been a very dependable “in the box” safety for the duration of his time at Georgia. His primary job has been providing run support, which would compliment All-Pro Jackson quite well.

Reed said as much in late February, when asked what kind of player the team who selects him will be getting. “I can come down in the box, I can play in the middle of the field and I can cover the tight end or anybody really. They’re gonna get a franchise safety. The term franchise gets thrown around a lot with the quarterbacks. Just like the franchise quarterback is supposed to be around for a long time, I’m a franchise safety that’s gonna be around for a long time.”

Matt Miller has Reed ranked 13th on his list of best safeties in the draft, and Reed is projected to be selected in the later rounds. Eddie Jackson was taken in the fourth round by the Bears in 2017, and he was the 13th overall safety taken that year. Thus, Reed could have a higher ceiling than most are projecting.

If the Bears selected Reed in the fifth round, they would also be getting a player one key member of their defense is very familiar with.

Reed Used to Be Roommates at Georgia With Bears’ Starting LB Roquan Smith

Reed was both teammates and roommates with current Bears’ starting linebacker Roquan Smith back in 2017, when both played for the Bulldogs. The two have not lost touch since that time.

“We still keep in contact,” Reed said in late February at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. “I’ve been up to Chicago to visit with him. Just being [at Georgia] and playing with him and some of those guys on that team was just amazing. Just seeing his work ethic and how he led are some of the things I like to implement in my game.”

Reed is limited in terms of his natural abilities; his speed is nothing to write home about and his flexibility isn’t great. But he’s highly physical, and he has no red flags injury-wise. He also played at a very competitive school, he seems easily coached — and he is already friends with a core member of the defense. Grabbing him in the late rounds and grooming him with the opportunity to compete against Deon Bush seems like a win-win for the Bears.

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