Meet the Man Who Will Step in for Steelers TJ Watt: OLB Malik Reed

By Jeremy Hritz

Malik Reed has the monumental task of filling in for TJ Watt as he begins rehabilitation for his pectoral injury. While there is no replacing Watt, as he is an amazing player, Reed must be productive in order for the Steelers defense to play at a high-level. And it won’t all fall on his shoulders, as Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin, Senior Defensive Assistant Brian Flores, and Head Coach Mike Tomlin will scheme with existing personnel approaches to minimize the loss (if that’s even possible).

With that in mind, let’s learn about Reed the person and the player, as he begins his tenure as a temporary starter at outside backer.


At 6’2, 235 (which is being generous), Reed is a compact edge rusher who has the frame to get underneath of offensive tackles with his pass rush. At his Pro Day in 2019 at Nevada, he posted a 4.85 40-yard dash, a 32.5 inch vertical, and a 6.89 3-cone drill. His 40 and his vertical are average, if not below average, while his 3-cone drill is solid for an outside linebacker. This is indicative of his mobility and lateral movement, which is important for this position he will be playing.

College Performance at Nevada

A 3-year starter at Nevada, Reed was an outstanding performer in college, recording 38.5 tackles for loss, 22 sacks, and 11 forced fumbles. As a result of his play, he was named First-Team All Mountain West his senior year, in addition to being recognized as an All-Academic player, and being awarded the “Hustle Award” from Nevada. In college, Reed showed he was productive, intelligent, and possessed an unrelenting motor.

Time with the Denver Broncos

Reed signed with the Broncos as an UDRFA in 2019, and surprisingly made the team. He was called upon several times to fill in for starting OLBs in Denver, giving him experience for what he is about to encounter in Pittsburgh. During that time, Reed recorded 15 sacks, with a high of 8 in 2020, 124 tackles, and 3 forced fumbles. These are solid numbers for an undrafted player who had to step in because of injury, and it provides some optimism while Watt is out.

Other Nuggets

Reed was in the National Honor Society in high school, keeping with the theme of his academic prowess, and demonstrated an interest in medicine. As a result in college, he majored in Public Health and was awarded his degree in 2019. Hometown is Dothan, Alabama.

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