A Look At Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin‘s 2017 Season Performance.
Coming into the NFL last year, Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin was known for making splash plays in college at Tennessee University. He was a person many had a 3rd round grade on, but he ended up falling to the Lions in the middle of the 4th round.
Reeves-Maybin had a knack for weaving through traffic to create tackles for a loss against the run. He was also great at pre-diagnosing screens and blowing them up. He showed great burst and ability to drive through ball-carriers to finish plays. While there was a lot to love about his game, the reason Reeves-Maybin fell a round was due to size and health concerns.
These concerns were certainly genuine, given the rate at which smaller linebacker’s like Maybin work at. Coming into the NFL at 6’0, 230 lbs, was likely going to be difficult. Add in that he had some trouble staying healthy competing against college players and it’s easy to see why NFL teams were cautious of using their third round pick of Reeves-Maybin.
Reeves-Maybin’s 2017 Season Showed Glimpses Of What Could Be To Come
In a season full of injuries, Reeves-Maybin was not one of them. Earlier in the year, he did spend some time getting snaps as the WILL linebacker, typically coming in on obvious passing downs. However, much like teammate Jarrad Davis, he was thrown into the fire a bit earlier than he was ready for. Throughout the middle portion of the season, the only impact he was able to make was on special teams. But, he did not disappoint.
NFL veterans consistently speak about one of the best ways to earn or keep a roster spot is to do well on special teams. Reeves-Maybin was arguably the best and most consistent tackler on their kickoff and punt teams in 2017. He remained disciplined in his lane while flying down the field, while rarely missing a tackle. This encouraged the Lions to get him more involved in the defense towards the end of 2017.
When he was able to get involved, he showed more of what we saw in college. He displayed nice coverage in zone in the middle of the field. He earned two passes deflected in this area. The Lions linebacker also sniffed out a couple screens as well, helping bring them to an end before the play even got started. During the 2017 season, Reeves-Maybin played in every game but two. In those fourteen games, he accrued 21 tackles, forced a fumble, and earned 0.5 sacks.
Reeves-Maybin still needs to add weight and continue to prove his health issues are only relevant to his past. However, with what he showed in his first season in Detroit, there is something to be excited about. If there is anyone who can help him find consistency in his game in 2018, it would be new Lions head coach Matt Patricia.