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Mike Tomlin Believes Trade Acquisition Malik Reed Provides Quality Depth For Steelers

During his press conference after practice today, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about Malik Reed, who was acquired via trade earlier today from the Denver Broncos.

“He’s an edge guy that provides good quality depth for us there. He’s played a lot, he’s played over 700 snaps the last two seasons. He was kind of the third guy that got elevated and played a lot in Denver because of circumstances, Chubb and others. So he brings the type of experience that’s helpful to us, we’re excited about having him,” Tomlin said via Steelers Live on Twitter. “I talked to him this morning, he’s excited about getting on this moving train and putting in the pile along with the rest of us.”

Reed is certainly an upgrade over what Pittsburgh had on their roster as far as backup outside linebackers before the trade. Reed has 13 sacks over the past two seasons and led the Broncos with eight sacks in 2020. He has pass rushing ability, which should benefit the Steelers whenever Alex Highsmith or T.J. Watt need a quick breather. Obviously, he’s also valuable insurance in case of injuries, and given that both Watt and Highsmith have missed time over the past few seasons with injuries, it’s important to have a capable fill-in, and Reed certainly is.

He has experience filling in due to injuries for Denver, as Tomlin talked about. Reed was the guy who stepped up when Bradley Chubb tore his ACL and when Von Miller went down with an ankle injury, which is part of the reason why he has so much experience. He was able to make the most of that experience and perform for Denver, which is why Pittsburgh thought highly enough of him to go out and trade for him today.

Tomlin also said he likes Reed’s motor.

“I like his motor. He appears to be an attention-to-detail guy, he plays bigger than his measurables. He’s got a nice inside long arm, he’s capable of rushing from both sides. There’s a lot that’s attractive about his game.”

His ability to rush from both sides is key because he’ll be able to spell either Watt or Highsmith when needed. At 6’2″, 235 lbs., Reed isn’t all that big for an outside linebacker, but obviously, Tomlin believes he can play big, and his speed around the edge can also be an asset in his game.

Teryl Austin also talked about the importance of having outside linebacker depth in his press conference today, via Steelers Live.

“I think it’s important that you have a guy to have some depth, because those guys can’t play every snap in the way they play. The physicality in which they play with and the effort and energy. So, you have to have a third guy and a lot of times we’ll get a fourth guy. The fourth guy maybe will get 10 snaps a game.” Austin said.

Reed is definitely a guy who can rush the passer. He had a strip-sack against Pittsburgh last year, and paired up with Derrek Tuszka, the two of them are at least serviceable as backups at outside linebacker.

Getting someone with legitimate experience in Reed was important. Pittsburgh was looking at Hamilcar Rashed Jr. or Delontae Scott for that other outside linebacker spot before making the move for Reed. While I liked Rashed’s ability, the fact he wasn’t able to put anything on the stat sheet and didn’t really provide much of anything against the Lions in his chance to win the job was a major knock on him, and it makes sense the team would go in another direction. Scott looked OK against Detroit, but he definitely wouldn’t have been the ideal option.

Going out and acquiring Reed, especially at the price they did (a sixth-round pick for Reed and a seventh-round pick) is definitely a win for Pittsburgh. This team needs to have good pass-rushing depth at the outside linebacker position, and Reed helps accomplish that goal. I’m excited to see what he can do in the black and gold and what kind of impact he’ll have on the team this year.

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