Ed Reynolds 2014 Preview
Ed Reynolds, 6-2/205
By Charlie Campbell
Reynolds had a quiet beginning to his collegiate career, but took the Pac-12 by storm in 2012. He was one of the nation's leaders in interceptions with six and provided some huge plays for the Pac-12 champions. Reynolds had five passes broken up and 37 tackles. He came close to a number of other interceptions as he did an excellent job in pass coverage in the deep part of the field.
Stanford and Reynolds had an excellent performance in helping to limit Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to 10 yards on two catches. The Stanford defensive line played a huge role in that as Huskies quarterback Keith Price was under pressure all game.
Reynolds and the Cardinal secondary did a better job than most of limiting USC star wide out Marqise Lee and his complement Robert Woods. That duo picked up just 12 receptions and 138 yards in Stanford's 21-14 victory.
When Reynolds got his hands on the ball, he made the most of his opportunities. Three of his six picks were returned for touchdowns. Another one of the six came against UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and Reynolds returned that pick 80 yards to the 1-yard line. The junior was a Third-Team All-American by the AP for his impressive 2012 season.
Reynolds was a backup who barely saw the field in 2010. He missed his entire sophomore season because of a knee injury.
2013 Season Outlook:
The Cardinal has a challenging schedule that should provide a number of tough draft matchups to gauge Reynolds' abilities for the NFL. He is going to go against the best wide receiver and tight end in the nation, along with some good quarterbacks.
Reynolds will start the season by taking on San Jose State and quarterback David Fales. Some currently rate the Spartans signal-caller as a first-rounder for the 2014 NFL Draft.
In early October, Stanford will take on Washington and stud tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. NFL teams will want to see Reynolds' ability to match up on a dangerous receiving tight end like Seferian-Jenkins. If Reynolds can cover him well, it would be huge for the defender's draft stock.
UCLA will test Stanford with quarterback Brett Hundley and a solid group of receivers. Reynolds had a mixed showing against the Bruins last year; he did well in pass coverage but struggled in stopping UCLA's ground offense led by current Packers running back Johnathan Franklin.
Oregon always features an explosive offense and it will be interesting to see how Reynolds performs against the Ducks high-powered rushing attack that constantly breaks runs into the secondary. Oregon also has a top tight end in Colt Lyerla to test Reynolds' coverage abilities.
In mid-November, Reynolds will once again match up against the top wide out in college football, Marqise Lee. If Reynolds can hold his own against Lee and all these other top prospects, it will be a supremely impressive season.
Reynolds is still a work in progress as a player. That isn't surprising considering he has only one season of playing time. Reynolds was an instinctive play-maker in pass coverage last year. He covered a lot of ground as a center fielder and had the knack for getting into passing lanes.
Reynolds does a nice job on passing plays with reading the quarterback's eyes and breaking on the ball. That helped Reynolds to record his six interceptions last season. He came close to a number of other picks, too. Reynolds has good hands and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. He showed a nice ability to pick up receivers downfield.
It would be nice to see Reynolds get tested more in man coverage on slot receivers and tight ends in 2013.
There are a few areas that Reynolds needs to work on for the NFL. Run support is a big one. His open-field tackling definitely needs to improve as he had too many whiffs in 2012. Reynolds was put in some tough situations as he lined up so deep that when runners got to him, they had already broken downfield and generally had plenty of room to operate. Still, Reynolds needs to get better as the last line of defense to prevent long touchdown runs and gains.
Reynolds could use more strength so he can deliver the hit and wrap up rather than trying to be a drag-down tackler. This analyst would like to see Reynolds add more physicality to his game. There are times when he seems to hesitate to mix it up or clean up a pile while watching his teammates take down a ball-carrier.
Reynolds needs to improve his eye discipline and read-and-react skills on running plays this season. There were times where he left open the deep middle of the field in 2012 because he was too quick to bite on misdirection plays to the perimeter.
There is no doubt that Reynolds has intelligence and instincts to be a solid back-end defender. He has the athletic ability, size and quickness to be a well-rounded safety. It will be interesting to see how much Reynolds is able to improve as a senior.
2014 NFL Draft Expectations:
Reynolds currently looks like a second-day pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, assuming his play doesn't drop off. The 2014 safety class doesn't look anywhere near as strong as the 2013 class, but this past April looked like a banner year for safeties. The senior enters the fall as one of the better safeties in college football.
It would help Reynolds' stock if he could develop a more complete game with run defense that rivaled his 2012 turnover production. Reynolds could turn into a solid safety prospect, but he may not have the well-rounded skills and dominating ability to be a first-round pick. However, if Reynolds dominates against the elite offensive play-makers he faces this season, he should rise up draft boards.
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