The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Stanford safety Ed Reynolds with a fifth round selection (No. 162) in the 2014 NFL Draft. Bleeding Green Nation's Mike Kaye profiled Reynolds recently, but I thought it would be equally useful to acquire an insider's insight. In order to learn more about the Eagles' new safety, I contacted Stanford SB Nation blog Rule of Tree. Jack Blanchat was kind enough to answer my questions and had some unique insight to share.
1) What is Ed Reynolds' NFL potential?
Right now, Reynolds is a special teamer and backup safety who has a chance to become a decent starter with some seasoning. He's got a knack for making big plays and he's not afraid to come downhill and hit guys in the run game, but he's a little overactive in the pass game and will need to adjust to the complexity and athleticism of the pro game. I think Reynolds might be able to step in next season as a starter for Philly, and I think he can be a mid-tier NFL safety. I wouldn't quite expect him to turn out like fellow 5th round pick Richard Sherman.
2) What are his strengths?
Reynolds is really aggressive when the ball is in the air, particularly when the play breaks down and the QB is forced into a scramble drill situation. That's where he's able to roam and use his instincts and athleticism to his advantage. He also improved dramatically as a tackler in his second year as a starter. I think he might sneakily be one of the best special teamers for the Eagles this fall.
3) What are his weaknesses?
Reynolds tends to react to whatever the QB and receivers first moves are. He sometimes overruns a few plays and he isn't the most fundamentally sound in one-on-one coverage. He doesn't spend a lot of time with his hand in guys' hip pockets. He's much better looking forward in zone coverage than he is moving backward in man. He also has a tendency to hit with his head just a bit too low from time to time as well - he got tossed out of Stanford's game against Arizona State for a pretty egregious targeting call.
4) Reynolds seemed to play really well in his sophomore season (2012) where he recorded a total of 6 interceptions for a total of 301 return yards and 3 touchdowns. He also recorded 9 passes defensed. In 2013, Reynolds' tackling numbers went up but he only recorded one interception. I've seen it suggested that teams stopped throwing towards Reynolds as often. Is there any truth to this or did he struggle in his final season at Stanford?
I don't know if teams didn't throw to his side of the field as much in 2013 - he gave up a few very big plays against Michigan State - but teams were definitely more loath to chuck the ball deep up the middle, so I'd say Reynolds had far fewer chances to make those big plays he did in 2012. And yes, it's worth mentioning that he did have a few more negative plays in 2013 than in 2012. However, he improved so much in the run game that I'm still bullish on Reynolds' NFL prospects. I think he made enough plays over two years of tape that it might be confusing if you only watch 2013 or you only watch 2012, but put it all together and he's still got a lot to offer.
Thanks again to Jack. Make sure to check out Rule of Tree.