The Philadelphia Eagles best pick of the entire 2014 NFL Draft may turn out to being their 5th round selection (162nd overall) of Stanford safety Ed Reynolds. Over the past two seasons, the organization has tried to retool their entire defensive backfield. Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman brought in seven different corners or safeties from the free agent market in that span. Reynolds could be a long term solution to end that ongoing carousel.
Though he will be fighting for playing time with a now crowded defensive backfield, Reynolds adds the tools sorely missed on one of the worst units in the NFL. He is not only physically imposing for the position, standing in at 6’1″ 207 lbs., he uses his large frame to intimidate pass-catchers. Though the NFL may not agree with his tackling form (which may bring in some hefty fines), Reynolds makes an impression on his opponents.
Receivers start to “alligator arm” when there is a player waiting to knock them out of the game. In turn, that leads to many more turnovers; a skill Reynolds has excelled with his junior season at Stanford. He collected six interceptions in 2012, returning three for touchdowns, racking up 301 total return yards in the process (good for second best in NCAA history). His senior campaign was underwhelming, with only one interception, but that could be in large amount due to teams simply avoiding throwing in his direction.
Looking at the Seattle Seahawks model leading to their Super Bowl victory a few months ago, they are littered with defensive backs that can get physical and turn defense into offense. The reigning champions look for smart and savvy defenders that make impacts on all facets of the game. Reynolds could emulate the same role as Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, another fifth round pick in 2010 (133rd overall); who is now considered one of the best in the league. He obviously has the intelligence to handle to position, attending one of the premiere universities in the country on and off the field. While he is also not afraid to attack in the running or passing game.
That intimidation factor has been lacking for the Eagles, allowing teams to essentially march up and down the field on a regular basis. His presence would have been utilized most notably in the last drive of the 2013-14 season against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs. When looking back at the 2014 off season, it could be defined on whether or not players like Reynolds live up to their potential.