Ask about rookie wide receiver David Reed around Ravens headquarters these days and you’ll almost surely get a response along these lines: “The guy’s got great hands.”
Reed, a fifth-round pick in last month’s draft, has spent the last few weeks of minicamps wowing coaches and teammates with his pass catching ability, despite the fact that he’s getting tossed into a new offense and is having to pick things up on the fly.
“It’s shorts, but he’s done a nice job,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s adjusted to the tempo of our level, and he catches everything. He gets in and out of his routes well.”
Some receivers might be strongest in their route running or be blessed with blazing speed; Reed’s greatest strength comes in his hands.
While at Pasadena City College, where he spent his first two years at the collegiate level, Reed sent national junior college records for most receptions and yards in a season with 111 catches for 1,661 yards.
After transferring to Utah, Reed wrote his name into another record book, setting a school record for receptions and receiving yards in season as a senior, when he made 81 grabs for 1,188 yards.
“I’ve got great hands,” Reed says. “I feel I can catch any ball. You throw it up to me, I feel like I should make any catch.”
As Harbaugh points out, the practices so far have been in just shorts and shells, but since getting drafted, Reed has caught far more passes than he’s dropped in the minicamp practices that are open to the media.
Because he played both on the outside and in the slot in college, Reed can fit into offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s offense in a number of ways.
He caught lots of screen passes at Pasadena City College, where the coaching staff liked getting him the ball in space and letting him make plays with his legs. At Utah, Reed became more a part of the vertical passing game, and averaged nearly 15 yards per catch during his senior year.
In previous years, because of a lack of depth at wide receiver, Reed might have been counted on to be an immediate contributor in the Ravens’ offense. Now, with the additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth and the return of Derrick Mason, Reed will likely be battling for a roster spot as a reserve wide receiver/special teams contributor.
That’s a role that suits him just fine for right now.
“I know those guys are going to play,” Reed said of the wide receivers above him on the depth chart. “Hopefully I can just get a shot, when they get tired or something. For now, I’m just making my way in there slowly. I’m a rookie, so I’ll play special teams or whatever. Any way to get on the field.”