Mel Kiper ranks Eric Reid at the top of the 2013 rookie class through Week 1

Thearon W. Henderson

ESPN's Mel Kiper put together a list of the Top 15 rookies through Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season. Eric Reid topped the list, and we look at why. New to Niners Nation? Sign up here and join the discussion!

We are only through one week of the 49ers 2013 season, but right off the bat, Eric Reid would appear to be a keeper. It's a small sample size, but he showed all the physical skills necessary to succeed in this league. His closing speed was impressive, he was technically sound in his tackling (minus two missed tackles), and he provided solid coverage on limited opportunities.

ESPN's Mel Kiper put together a ranking of the top 15 rookies through Week 1, and Reid topped the list. The top five included:

1. S Eric Reid
2. CB Desmond Trufant
3. DT Star Lotulelei
4. DT Sheldon Richardson
5. DB Tyrann Mathieu.

Kiper's list looked at the matchup context given the small sample size of one week. Additionally, while positional value matters, overall performance and impact mattered more to Kiper. Additionally, total snap count has value, since more snaps means potentially fewer situations where the player was only used in advantageous situations.

Here's what Kiper had to say about Reid's Week 1 performance:

There are easier ways to find your way in the NFL than to line up at free safety on a day when Aaron Rodgers is the opposing quarterback, constantly using his eyes to try to get you not just on the wrong foot, but into the wrong zip code. But Reid held up extremely well to start his career. Only three passes were completed near him, he picked off one and had another called back on a penalty. He showed great closing speed when catches were made in front of him, and he finished with five tackles. He also looked good on special teams, an area I'm always looking at for rookies. If you didn't think Reid was the best this week, just remember the context -- first game, replacing a veteran in Dashon Goldson, and facing Rodgers. Reid stepped in and rose to the occasion in a game that had far more intensity than your typical Week 1 matchup. Remember, this is a guy the 49ers actually traded up for. So far, so good.

The two things I took away from Reid's Week 1 performance were his closing speed and his tackling technique. The speed will be a huge part of his game, as it allows him to potentially play a bit further back, but still make plays as needed. I pointed that out in regards to a tackle on Randall Cobb, and a stop of a scrambling Aaron Rodgers.

That being said, for many players, speed is the first thing to go. Reid could maintain his closing speed for some time, but when speed goes, you need solid fundamentals after that. We saw that on Sunday as he did a good job wrapping up most of his tackles, and not looking for the big hit that could lead to penalties. Reid did miss two tackles, but I think consistency will come with time.

In case you were wondering, on August 20, Bovada released odds on NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Eric Reid was a bit of a longshot:

Ezekiel Ansah - 6/1
Arthur Brown - 15/2
Jarvis Jones - 8/1
Manti Teo - 14/1
Star Lotulelei - 14/1
Tyran Mathieu - 14/1
Barkevious Mingo - 16/1
Dee Milliner - 16/1
Matt Elam - 16/1
Sharrif Floyd - 16/1
DJ Hayden - 18/1
Datone Jones - 18/1
Dion Jordan 18/1
Alec Ogletree - 20/1
Desmond Trufant - 20/1
John Jenkins - 20/1
Kenny Vaccaro - 20/1
Bjoern Werner - 25/1

Eric Reid - 25/1

Jonathan Cyprien - 25/1
Kevin Minter - 25/1
Sheldon Richardson - 25/1
Sylvester Williams - 25/1
Xavier Rhodes - 25/1

There is still a lot of football to be played, but for now, Reid is off to a solid start.

This week, he faces a Seattle Seahawks team with a great quarterback in Russell Wilson, but some question marks at wide receiver. Wilson worked his way to 320 yards last week, connecting with eight different players. Doug Baldwin led the way with seven receptions for 91 yards, but nobody else had more than 51 yards. User mrg80 put together a look at Wilson through the eyes of All-22. It doesn't tell us everything, but it provides a few interesting points.

The 49ers front seven will have their hands full with Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, and I have to think this will be the first game where Reid's ability to read play action could come into play. The Packers tried to establish the run game, but found little success. The Seahawks seem better suited to set up their ground game against the 49ers, which will provide a new test of Eric Reid.

Most weeks we are bound to see new tests for Reid. He is seeing everything for the first time at the NFL level. He will need to learn to read and react to an endless array of situations. He seems to have all the tools to be a great safety in this league. Now, the key is to get experience. The more he experiences, the more he will know heading into future games. This weekend will feature one such significant experience.

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