I hope the Philadelphia Eagles are getting the good Ed Reynolds.
Apparently, there are two of them. That sounds impossible, but it must be the case. In researching Stanford safety Ed Reynolds, who the Eagles selected in the fifth round, No. 162 overall, I came up with the following.
According to NFL.com, Reynolds lacks a burst, has average play speed, “leaks yards after contact,” “misses too many tackles in the open field” and “can be run over.”
According to CBS Sports, Reynolds “demonstrates good agility and acceleration,” “moves fluidly,” and is a “reliable open-field tackler” who “breaks down well in space and delivers a pop on contact, often driving ballcarriers back.”
We’re talking about the same guy, right?
I’m guessing Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman were in the latter camp, which had rated Reynolds the sixth-best safety in the draft and a player to go in the fourth or fifth round (NFL.com projected rounds six or seven).
This is just further illustration of the fact that, once one gets out of the “top” 60 or so players, the hype and reliable scouting reports all die down. So much homework is done on those early guys, as people argue over whether a player goes late first or early second round, etc., but it’s those quality players picked up in the middle and late rounds that complete a roster and turn contenders into champions.
Is Reynolds one of those guys? He’ll certainly get an opportunity to prove himself. The Eagles’ safety situation is, to put it mildly, in flux. Malcolm Jenkins was brought in from New Orleans and figures to start at free safety. Earl Wolff, coming back from an injury, did enough last year to show he could start at strong safety.
After that, you have everyone’s favorite player, Nate Allen, as Wolff’s backup, and then, well, not much.
Reynolds has shown flashes of a guy who could be an impact player in the secondary. As a junior in 2012 he led Stanford with six interceptions, returning three for touchdowns. His total interception-return yardage of 301 was one-yard short of a the single-season NCAA record.
Last year, those ballhawking skills weren’t really on display as he had just one interception. There could be a lot of reasons for that, and as Reynolds told Philadelphia media he believes quarterbacks were staying away from him after his breakout campaign. He did just about double his tackles and was named second-team All-American. Interceptions aren’t everything.
NFL.com praises Reynolds for his size and says he can “contend with tight ends,” which will be music to fans’ ears after years of watching the Birds struggle against that particular position. But the NFL.com information is also based largely on his combine performance, which Reynolds seemed to put an asterisk on with his outstanding Pro Day performance.
In this SFGate.com story, Reynolds’ improvements are detailed extensively. He dropped his 4o-yard dash time from 4.57 to 4.4 and added nearly half a foot (38 inches to 32.5) in his vertical.
Consistency is the key in the NFL, not just from week to week, but from play to play. This seems to be the thing Reynolds must improve upon the most. He has the skills, he has the talent, he has the pedigree (his father played a decade in the NFL as a linebacker).
It’s really up to Kelly and staff to see if they can put it all together.