Chargers plug in Reyes
UConn tackle will energize defense
FOXBOROUGH - The first round of the NFL draft went by quickly Thursday night and the phone didn’t ring for Kendall Reyes of the University of Connecticut, who was considered one of the four top defensive linemen in the draft.
Reyes, a 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound tackle at UConn, said he didn’t mind which team drafted him, and what round in which he was selected didn’t matter much.
Reyes’s uncertainty ended fairly quickly Friday night when the San Diego Chargers selected Reyes with the 49th pick overall, the 17th pick in the second round.
Reyes was described as “extremely smart, articulate, coachable’’ in one draft profile. He was also said to have “outstanding intangibles.’’ Reyes was a three-year starter for the Huskies’ defensive front. Last season he had a career-high 46 tackles and was third on the team with 4 1/2 sacks.
As far as negatives in his draft profile, Reyes is said to have a “limited pass rush.’’ That will require some work by the Chargers coaching staff, which has a new defensive coordinator in John Pagano. San Diego’s defense finished last in the NFL last season in third-down conversion rate.
The Chargers started the rebuilding process Thursday night by selecting South Carolina outside linebacker/defensive end Melvin Ingram in the first round, 18th overall. San Diego also drafted LSU strong safety Brandon Taylor in the third round (73d overall).
For Reyes, who came to UConn out of Nashua (N.H.) North High School as a undersized defensive lineman, Friday night became the next step in a journey that he planned would lead to the NFL. He drew attention at the Senior Bowl with three solo tackles and a sack. He drew more attention with some impressive workouts at the NFL combine, including 36 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
“Speed, burst, athleticism - I think it all stands out for us,’’ said Jimmy Raye, the Chargers’ director of player personnel. “A guy who at 299 pounds ran a 4.82 [in the 40-yard dash]. The quickness, the energy that he plays with was appealing to us.’’
“I was blessed to have a quick first step,’’ Reyes said. “I’m definitely ready to work with the coaches and be able to take my pass-rush ability to the next level and hopefully make a difference this year.’’
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at email@example.com.