Secret Superstar: Kendall Reyes
When it comes to 3-4 defensive ends, unless you are JJ Watt you won’t get a whole lot of attention. Although players at the position usually don’t rack up the (overrated) sack statistics, they can still make a major impact as pass rushers. One under-the-radar player that made a big impact in his rookie year was Kendall Reyes.
A second-round pick in 2012, Reyes did not offer much in run support. He was, however, one of the most productive pass rushers at his position in the league. The Chargers defender is one of the most athletic 300-pound men around. Without much competition on the roster, and a starting job locked up, Reyes could blossom into a star in 2013.
Reyes made the transition from defensive tackle in college to 5-technique defensive end in the NFL, and progressed very well over the course of the season. His run defense still has a way to go, but it did improve as the season went on. His run defense grade was -4.5 over the first half of the season, as opposed to +2.0 in the second half.
Over the first nine games of the 2012 season, Reyes played a total of 225 snaps, and never more than 36 in one contest. His rating over that period was a lousy -4.2. Over the final seven games of 2012, he logged 322 snaps, and at least 41 in each game. During that stretch, his rating was a much improved +8.1. He also had 23 QB pressures in the latter half of the season, compared to his 10 from the first eight games.
Pass Rush Specialist
If I asked you who the most productive pass rusher from the 3-4 defensive end spot (aside from Watt, of course) was, most people would not think about the rookie from Connecticut. Reyes’ Pass Rushing Productivity came in at 8.1, second in the NFL at his position. He compiled five sacks, seven hits, and 21 hurries, for a total of 33 QB pressures in only 320 pass rush snaps.
He does still need improvement when it comes to being an impact player on passing downs, however. He made a stop on only 3.3% of plays, ranking him dead last for all defensive ends with at least 25% of snaps played. Again, he improved as the season went on, but this is an area Reyes really needs to work on.
There is no real competition on San Diego’s roster that would keep Reyes from playing a whole lot of snaps. They have Corey Liuget on the other side, who was excellent in his second year for the Bolts, but not too much else. The Chargers signed former Packer and Titan Jarius Wynn, although he has never logged a positive grade in any of his four seasons.
The Chargers will be counting on a lot of young players in the upcoming season, with Reyes chief among them. He will need to help bolster the pass rush for a team without much depth on the front seven.
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