Signing Eric Reid would significantly change Bengals draft board

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18: Mike Tolbert /

The Cincinnati Bengals are supposed to be visiting with former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid. If they sign him, it could change their draft board.

The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to visit with free agent safety Eric Reid, former San Francisco 49ers safety. The team was aggressive in pursuing safety Kurt Coleman earlier this offseason in hopes of improving their playmakers in the secondary. Reid would bring a versatility that no other Cincinnati safety has and improve not only the safety position but possibly the linebacker position as well.

Reid spent his first four years with the 49ers as a free safety, making a Pro Bowl selection his rookie season in 2013. The former first-round pick was asked to make some moves in 2017 due to lack of depth and injuries. In the earlier part of the season, Reid was asked to play linebacker after the team moved on from linebacker NaVorro Bowman and the lack of depth at the position. He surprisingly played really well at the position while never playing the position prior to 2017.

Following an injury in the secondary later in the season, Reid was moved to strong safety and continued to have success at a new position that he wasn’t familiar with. His ability to line up anywhere on the field is something that is extremely valuable in the NFL these days.

Signing him would not mean that the Bengals would absolutely move on from either of their starting safeties George Iloka and Shawn Williams. It would allow them to run more three-safety sets in nickel packages especially which is looking like the goal in 2018. It would, however, bring in an upgrade that can play multiple positions. Iloka and Williams ranked 40th and 45th among all NFL safeties last season according to Pro Football Focus. There’s no doubt that Cincinnati could use an upgrade.

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With his experience last year at linebacker, Reid could be a guy that could cover up some of the issues at the linebacker positions. Cincinnati addressed some of the linebacker problems by bringing in former Buffalo Bills linebacker Preston Brown who led the league in tackles just a season ago. There’s also the suspension of linebacker Vontaze Burfict the Bengals have to account for as well.

The biggest issue post-Brown signing is coverage linebacker. Cincinnati has been crushed by linebacker coverage over the last few seasons and needs to find someone that can cover out of the box. Reid could be a guy that comes down to the box and not only supports against the run game but to drop into coverage as well. It would allow the Bengals to look elsewhere in the earlier rounds like offensive line and possibly defensive tackle and give young linebackers like Jordan Evans and Nick Vigil more time to develop.

Cincinnati can knock out a hole in the weaker part of their defense being their secondary and give themselves better opportunities to trade up in the draft for players at other positions. With eleven picks in the upcoming draft, there’s no reason for the Bengals not to bundle some of those picks to bring in some valuable day one starters for 2018. Cincinnati needs quality picks over quantity, especially if they want to continue the “win now” pledge. For those that think Reid’s kneeling protest would be a problem, he has come out and said that he would not be protesting in 2018.

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Eric Reid, 26-years-old,  would bring in a great versatile talent for a team friendly price with the lack of interest from the rest of the NFL. His experience at both safety roles and as a hybrid linebacker last season makes him a perfect fit for the Bengals who don’t have a significant amount of cap room. They will likely have to let someone go after the draft to free up some space but this is a smart move if Cincinnati can pull it off.