The first glance at Miami's roster a week into free agency details an impressive projected starting lineup. As the moves keep coming in, the Dolphins are adding depth at key spots. Joining Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb and Emmanuel Ogbah is former Broncos and Steelers outside linebacker, Malik Reed.
Here are five things to know about Reed.
1. Reunited with Coach Fangio
An undrafted rookie turned starter, Reed hit the ground running upon entering the league in 2019. He played 15 games, registering two sacks, en route to a starting job in 2020. Reed paid off that promotion with a monster campaign. He compiled eight sacks and 17 quarterback hits. Playing in Denver under Coach Fangio, Reed totaled 15 sacks and 83 QB pressures over three seasons from 2019-21.
2. Three Down Contributor
Reed is more than a pass rush specialist. He's logged 928 snaps against the run and 171 reps in coverage over his four-year career (Pro Football Focus). In Pittsburgh, you'll find clips of Reed running out to cover slot receivers and doing it rather effectively. Coverage is usually expected for a linebacker of Reed's size (235 pounds), but even when giving nearly 100 pounds to opposing offensive tackles, Reed holds his own. He's racked up 67 career run stops and 16 tackles for loss.
3. Saving the Best for the AFC East
Reed was traded to the Steelers 13 days prior to the 2022 season opener. Pittsburgh played every team in the AFC East, including his two best games as a Steeler. Reed picked up three QB pressures in a game vs. the Patriots and a season-high four QB pressures vs. the Jets two weeks later.
4. Rush-Lane Integrity
Let's get into the weeds. Pass rushing is an art. Those who hunt the quarterback have to paint with a broader brush than ever before in the NFL. Quarterbacks are more athletic and tougher to bring to the ground. One way defenses work to prevented a player like Cam Newton from winning the game with his legs was to incorporate better rush lane integrity. The idea is to occupy each potential escape route with a defender, forcing the quarterback to win from the pocket.
Reed pairs an electric first step with the strength, contact balance and redirect ability to get off blocks while staying in his rush lane. In fact, in his second season as a pro, Reed brought the former All-Pro quarterback to the turf twice, earning the admiration of his former and current coach.
"He put together two good rushes there," then Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said. "They were rushes where we had an extra guy or two in the rush, which helped eliminate the quarterback's ability to step up and wiggle through a space. He took full advantage and they were two great plays by Malik."
5. Beloved By His Teammates
Starting his career in Denver, Reed worked his way into an outside linebacker rotation much like the one he joins in Miami - a room packed full of talent. Along with Fangio, Reed rejoins Chubb after the pair collapsed pockets in Denver, but another well-known former Bronco had quite the compliment for Reed.
"Malik, he's just a special guy and he works extremely hard and it rubs off on me," former Broncos OLB Von Miller said. "I think that's the type of people I need to be around going into Year 11. The guys are going to continue to drive me, continue to push me to be a better player and be a better teammate."
For more analysis on Malik Reed, and the entire Dolphins 2023 free agent class, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield - available wherever you get your podcasts.