NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang spends a lot of time evaluating college players in the months leading up to April's NFL Draft. And now that the draft is behind us, Rang spends the subsequent weeks looking at what teams got and what they can expect looking forward. On Wednesday, he wrote about the Chargers' selections, and former UConn defensive lineman Kendall Reyes, in particular.
"Former Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes will be moved outside to play defensive end in the Chargers' 3-4 scheme. He has the strength, length and hustle to perform well in this role. I believe he's at least as good of a schematic fit, in fact, as Corey Liuget, whom the Chargers selected in the first round a year ago."
Last season, San Diego's defense was below average against both the run and the pass. According to Football Outsiders, they ranked 29th overall in defensive efficiency, 22nd against the run and 31st against the pass. Conventional wisdom might suggest that unless Reyes can play defensive back he won't have much impact on the Chargers' ability to keep teams from throwing the ball. But defending the pass starts with the pass rush. And Reyes' combination of quickness and strength is perfectly suited for getting into the backfield and disrupting an offense's timing.
And bolstering the defense was by design this offseason. "We had a defensive game plan and an emphasis toward that side of the ball in this draft," general manager A.J. Smith said after the draft.
And while some folks characterize Reyes' spring as one where he didn't receive much notice, Rang and other talent evaluators have long known about his abilities. Reyes ranked 38th on Rang's list of top 50 players heading into the draft and here's Rang's scouting report from earlier this spring:
"Reyes has been a standout throughout his career with the Huskies but really boosted his stock with an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. Demonstrating the quickness and power there to translate well as a defensive tackle in the 4-3 or as a defensive end in the 3-4 alignment, Reyes' versatility and intangibles (two-time team captain) stand out at a position considered one of the 2012 draft's most talented … His 31.5 career tackles for loss prove he can be a playmaker as a five-technique defensive end in the Chargers' 3-4."