01/26/2012 - 2012 SENIOR BOWL THURSDAY: Small school cornerback Ryan Steed out of Furman has shown he belongs here this week, competing at a high level in every drill. His inexperience will show at times as he still needs to develop his instincts and read/react ability, but he has shown the smooth athleticism to play the position in the NFL. Steed looked natural in his transition, turning and running with receivers downfield with smooth flexibility. He needs some work before he's ready to cover pro receivers, but he has looked promising this week. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
Perhaps due to a stellar prep basketball career, Steed slipped through the cracks of the major recruiters and only had offers from Furman, The Citadel and Charleston Southern. Four years later, Steed has established himself as an FCS All-American, a Senior Bowl standout and a highly regarded NFL prospect.
Steed didn't start immediately for the Paladins but did earn a spot on the So-Con Coaches' All-Freshman team by picking off two passes and blocking two punts despite limited playing time. Taking over for Jacksonville Jaguar fifth round pick William Middleton at boundary corner as a true sophomore, Steed quickly proved to be one of the players at this level, earning all-conference honors by leading the team with 15 passes defended, including four interceptions. Steed also posted 59 tackles on the year and scored touchdowns on a 43-yard interception return and fumble recovery in the endzone.
It was more of the same for Steed as a junior (65 tackles, nine passes broken up, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and three touchdowns) and though his numbers in 2011 declined slightly (46 tackles, four pass breakups, four interceptions and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery for the third consecutive season. Over his career Steed registered 180 tackles, 38 passes defensed and notched 14 interceptions.
Steed eased any concerns about his ability to compete at the FBS level by enjoying an impressive week of practice at the Senior Bowl. If he can answer questions about his overall speed in workouts, Steed has the look of a future NFL starter.
Man Coverage: Flashed a physical punch of receivers at the Senior Bowl. Is a bit inconsistent with explosiveness in this area but possesses long arms (32-inch) and quick hands to get at least jab to latch on and slow the receiver's get-off. Silky smooth athlete. Loose hips and light, quick feet giving him the ability to turn and run with impressive fluidity. A natural cover corner whose agility from his time on the hardwood is obvious. May be quicker than he is fast. Caught from behind on a return leading to concerns about his straight-line speed. Rarely targeted deep at this level and demonstrated plenty of speed to compete in Mobile.
Zone Coverage: Good awareness and burst to close for zone coverage. Keeps his eyes on the quarterback and has a nice feel for route progressions from his primary opponent due to film review. Trusts his eyes and will break on underneath routes to make he big play. Due to this aggression he can be led astray by savvy route-runners and quarterbacks looking him off.
Ball Skills: Instinctive football player. Keeps his eyes up and shows a quick burst to undercut throws. Looks natural catching the ball, extending his arms and cradling the ball with his hands to do so. Good timing and athleticism as a leaper, showing quick hands to knock the ball free from the receiver and going for the interception (when in position to do so). Doesn't panic with the ball in the air, showing good discipline and awareness to locate the play the ball rather than face guard and potentially draw the flag. Dangerous with the ball in his hands. Has a feel for setting up blocks and runs with burst and balance.
Run Support: Fights through receiver blocks to protect the edge. Willing to cut the knees out of the biggest of ball-carriers. Good effort in lateral and downfield pursuit. Takes good angles to the ball.
Tackling: Generally a reliable wrap-up tackler and flashes some physicality as a hitter. Active hands and will rip at the ball if he sees the ball-carrier carrying the ball loosely.
Intangibles: Highly decorated prep basketball player who earned all-state recognition as a sophomore and junior and played in two state championships game... Earned all-state recognition as a senior quarterback, as well and did so on a 6-5 team that saw him play running back, wide receiver, cornerback and returner... Highly recommended by the coaching staff for his work ethic, including studying his opponent's tendencies in the film room.