We continue breaking down 2014 NFL Draft prospects at Turn On The Jets, sticking with the free safety group. Next up is Stanford’s Ed Reynolds, a two year starter for “Nerd Nation.” Reynolds has begun to stir up the debate of who the best available safety in the 2014 draft class is. Let’s break down the prospect.
The Orange Park, Florida native Reynolds stand at six feet, two inches tall and weighs 206 pounds. Him and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor have the best “length” out of all the available free safeties in the 2014 draft class.
Reynolds first full season as a starter was his sophomore year, where he tallied five interceptions and returned three for touchdowns. In his junior year, which was his final season at Stanford, he reeled in only two interceptions with quarterbacks noticeably avoiding throwing his way.
In 2012 he won the Jack Tatum Trophy, which is given to the nation’s best defensive back. He was a third team All-American in 2012 and a first team All-American in 2013. Reynolds is the son of former NFL player Ed Reynolds Senior, who was on both the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.
As I previously mentioned, Reynolds has an excellent frame with the length to match. His long arms lead to many plays on the ball, along with decent hands leading to big time interceptions.
His sideline to sideline speed against the pass may be the best out of all the free safeties in this draft class. Quarterbacks caught on after his sophomore year that they should throw away from him.
Although his frame could pack on ten more pounds of muscle, Reynolds likes to throw his shoulders around. He often lines up sideline runners and sends them flying out of bounds.
With the ball in his hands, Reynolds is a game changer. He has top notch vision and has a knack for finding his way into the end zone after interceptions.
Although he is a safety, Reynolds really needs to work on his tackling. His biggest red flag is the strange angles he takes at ball carriers. He plays extremely deep and often takes himself entirely out of plays.
Even when Reynolds displays self control and attempts to wrap up rather than use his shoulder, it is not exactly pretty. At the moment, he seems to be a true ball hawk. His only problem against the pass is his “uphill” speed. At times he seems a step slower than wideouts when he needs recovery speed, a huge factor of adjusting to the NFL.
Much like Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Reynolds should not be relied on in run support early in his career. His frame is not filled out and he does not read run plays well while they develop in order to avoid more physical blockers. He also missed the entire 2011 season with an ACL tear.
How does he fit on the Jets?:
Much like Clinton-Dix, Reynolds fits in quite well as a ballhawking free safety. Unlike Clinton-Dix, I do not expect him to come off the board in the first round. If he slips to the Jets second round pick, it would be interesting to see what the Jets do.
He has instant starter capability for a team that needs help in the back end of the secondary, specifically in deep coverage. The Jets looked lost against the long ball this year and Reynolds deep center field style of play could make a difference. Not to mention tackling and angles seem to be his biggest weakness, an area that Rex Ryan excels at developing (Antonio Cromartie’s development comes to mind).
Players with range against the intermediate-deep passes aren’t always the easiest to find, especially with Reynolds playmaking ability. He has a knack for getting the ball into the end zone on interceptions.
While Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix seems like the more rounded out player at the moment, Reynolds size and skill set is intriguing. He struggles in areas that most defensive coaches are very capable of developing.
At the end of the day I see Ed Reynolds as a mid second round prospect and definitely a guy the Jets will have on their radar.
Follow Connor Rogers: @Real_CR3