By Joseph Beyda
Ed Reynolds, Safety
Alter ego: “The ballhawk.” Reynolds nearly tied NCAA records for interception return yards (302) and pick-sixes (4) in a season in 2012, with a questionable call costing him both marks by the slimmest of margins.
CBSSports.com projection: 4th/5th round
Cardinal career: Reynolds looked poised to make an early impact in the Cardinal secondary, playing in five games as a true freshman in 2010. But the following spring, he tore his ACL and MCL when a receiver landed on Reynolds’ knee in a non-contact drill, ending the promising defensive back’s sophomore season before it had a chance to start.
Opportunity soon knocked again for Reynolds, as he earned the starting free safety job entering 2012 following the departure of three Stanford defensive backs to the NFL. No one could have expected what came next. Reynolds picked off a pass in the season opener against San Jose State, intercepted two more in the Cardinal’s second game against Duke and returned one of them 71 yards for a touchdown. Two more pick-sixes against Colorado and Washington State made Reynolds one of the most talked-about safeties in college football, and he was marked down at the 1-yard line in the Pac-12 Championship Game against UCLA on what would (should) have been his fourth touchdown of the year.
Statistically, 2013 was a letdown for Reynolds, as his lone interception came in a season-opening blowout against San Jose State. But given that the 2012 AP third team All-American was considered the top safety in college football by many analysts entering the season, it’s no surprise that the Cardinal’s opponents chose to target their passing game elsewhere. Despite Reynolds’ limited chances to step in front of passes in 2013, he was still named a first team All-American by both CBSSports.com and Athlon Sports.
Pro stock: Reynolds certainly passes the eye test, with scouts taking note of his NFL-caliber physicality and speed. His instincts are a big plus as well, and he became a master at reading the quarterback’s eyes while learning from former Cardinal passer Tavita Pritchard when he was secondary coach in 2012. But Reynolds may need to improve his open-field tackling and keep his aggressiveness in check if he wants to add to the growing list of Stanford defensive backs succeeding at the next level.
Highlight: Reynolds’ near pick-six of Brett Hundley turned the tide for Stanford in the 2012 Pac-12 Championship Game against UCLA — even though he was robbed of two NCAA single-season records on the play.
Contact Joseph Beyda at jbeyda ‘at’ stanford.edu.