On Friday, the Jets announced that they had signed veteran defensive lineman Kendall Reyes. We're going to take an in-depth look at what he brings to the table.
The 28-year old Reyes is listed at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds and was a second round pick out of UConn in 2012. He started 52 games in four years with the Chargers, then spent 2016 with Washington and Kansas City as a reserve. He was not with a team last season.
Reyes had never played football until fifth grade and initially started off as a wide receiver, but he eventually became a sought-after recruit and was recruited to UConn. As a freshman, Reyes made some good contributions as a rotational lineman, earning himself four starts. He started nine more games in his sophomore year and then was a full-time starter and first-team all-Big Ten selection in 2010 and 2011.
Reyes ended his college career with 142 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He set career bests with 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in his senior year.
After a good performance at the scouting combine, Reyes was drafted by the Chargers with the 49th overall pick in the 2012 draft. As a rookie, he only started four games, but was third on the team with 5.5 sacks.
In 2013, he became a full time starter, missing just two starts over the next three seasons. His five sacks in 2013 were good for second place on the team and his 34 tackles were a career-high. However, he only had three sacks over the next two seasons.
In 2016, Washington signed the free agent Reyes to a $2.5 million, one-year deal, but he missed two of his first four games with them due to injuries and was released. The Chiefs picked him up and he played 10 games for them, plus another in the postseason. However, he totalled just 20 tackles and one sack on the year and was out of the league last season.
The Jets signed Reyes on Friday, after new addition Shaneil Jenkins had missed a couple of practices due to injuries.
Let's take a closer look at what Reyes brings to the table, divided into categories.
Reyes put together a solid set of numbers at the scouting combine, highlighted by an impressive 36 bench press reps.
He's a big guy, who looks the part, but doesn't flash elite explosiveness, burst or agility on film.
Reyes was primarily working in a 3-4 system in San Diego and playing as a 3-4 end. While he worked out of a variety of alignments, it was rare for him to play as a nose tackle, although he did line up outside the tackle box at times. His role was similar in Washington and in Kansas City.
Reyes is a player who can handle a big workload, as he played over 800 snaps in 2013. He's renowned for working hard on and off the field.
On this play, Reyes (#91) sees his initial rush repelled, but he stays with it and chases the quarterback down for the sack. This was very similar to the previous play on which he also registered a sack:
Reyes has some good strength but can be inconsistent at the point of attack and lacks elite range. While he will make some plays bottling up runs, he's too often been blocked out of the action over the course of his career.
Here's a play where he is driven off the line far too easily by a double team from two tight ends:
On this play, he gets out of his stance quickly to stand up the left tackle and penetrate, shedding the block to stuff the run:
On this play, Reyes (this time wearing #98) flows downhill naturally, works to gain ground upfield and displays some explosion to the ball to make a tackle for loss:
Reyes turned some heads with his pass rush numbers over his first two seasons - 10.5 sacks - but has been underwhelming since then with just four sacks in three years and there have been periods even in those first two years where he wasn't producing much.
In his rookie year, he had two sacks against Washington and the other 3.5 sacks against the Jets, in the infamous Greg McElroy start where he was sacked 12 times and picked up a concussion at some point. He didn't record any sacks in the other 14 games.
Reyes has generated nearly all of his sacks and most of his pressure either by cleaning up or on the bull rush. Here's a example of him getting a good surge on a bull rush:
Here's a rare example of him getting some pressure off the edge, flushing the quarterback from the pocket as he uses a good move to get off the block:
When Reyes first entered the league it was noted that he can win with his hands, but perhaps needed to develop those techniques. He seems to have a good understanding of leverage within the trenches though.
On this play, Reyes uses his quickness to prevent the tight end from sealing him off and then, having obtained the leverage advantage, is able to work his way upfield, keeping his inside arm free to make the tackle:
Reyes doesn't showcase much in terms of pass rush moves, but - as noted - can produce with a bull rush. This play gives a good look at how he re-adjusts his pad level to get the advantage on his man and drive him back:
Reyes does a lot of his tackling on the inside, bottling up plenty of runs, but can close well if making a tackle in space.
He hasn't had a lot of missed tackles over the course of his career with five being the most tackles he has missed in any season. On this play, he reacts late to the jet sweep and is unable to make the initial tackle, then lets the runner slip away from his tackle after hustling back into the play:
He doesn't have any forced fumbles at the NFL level yet, but Reyes did have three in four years while in college.
Reyes hasn't dropped into coverage very often, but does flash the ability to drop off and make plays. His best highlight in college saw him drop off the line for a 94-yard interception return, although the touchdown was negated by a holding penalty near the end zone.
Here was a spectacular interception from a few years ago:
Reyes can be productive in terms of batting down passes too. He had 10 passes defensed in college and has seven so far in the NFL.
Reyes is regarded as a smart player who keeps his head up in the trenches and has good awareness of where the ball is and when to get his hands up in the passing lane. However, he has had three offside penalties in his career.
Reyes hasn't contributed much on special teams over the years and would probably only feature on the kick block unit. He breaks through the line to pressure the kicker unsuccessfully on this play:
Reyes is considered to be extremely coachable and with a solid work ethic. He was a two-time captain at UConn and doesn't appear to have had any off-field issues, although there have been some suggestions of conditioning concerns at times.
Other than his offside penalties, the only penalty he's been called for was a defensive hold on a running play.
Reyes went through most of his four years with the Chargers without having any injury issues, although he was slowed by an ankle issue during the postseason in 2013.
Last year was a different story as he missed two of the first four games with a groin issue and was slowed by ankle and wrist issues after joining the Chiefs.
Reyes will fight for a rotational spot at defensive end in the Jets' rotation along with several other players.
Reyes was a teammate of Kevin Pierre-Louis, Spencer Long and Terrelle Pryor last season.
While Reyes has some experience, decent measurables and a good draft pedigree, his advanced metrics have not been good at the NFL level. Pro Football Focus had him ranked right at the bottom of the league for 3-4 ends in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Interestingly, while he was also in the bottom three for run defense at his position in all three years, the two players who joined him in the bottom three in 2015 were Xavier Cooper and Jarvis Jenkins, two players that this regime also targeted and signed. That seems to show that they perhaps value experience over consistency of performance.
Early on in his career, Reyes was viewed as someone who was a productive pass rusher but a disappointment against the run. However, that early career production was perhaps a bit of a mirage as he was mostly cleaning up rather than winning one-on-one matchups.
Reyes is a candidate for a roster spot, but - like Jenkins and Courtney Upshaw before him - he is probably considered an outside bet right now, unless someone gets hurt. Still, he should be a good barometer for the young linemen to measure themselves against - especially Foley Fatukasi. The rookie was also a productive lineman at UConn - with superior numbers to Reyes, in fact. It remains to be seen if Reyes will be a good mentor to his fellow Huskies standout with his own job on the line.