No-Huddle Series: Iowa State WR Darius Reynolds

Learn why Darius Reynolds has a chance to develop into a quietly formidable player in the NFL.

As Jon Gruden said during his QB Camp episode with Brandon Weeden, Iowa State is “a pretty good football team. Quietly, they’ve become formidable.” You don’t become that quietly formidable without some quietly formidable players. I think that pair of words fits wide receiver Darius Reynolds.

The Cyclones receiver ran a 4.54-40, bench pressed 225 lbs. 23 times, delivered a 6.77 three-cone drill, and posted a 35-inch vertical leap at nearly 6’2″ and 206 pounds. His three-cone time would have been third-best at the NFL Combine and his bench press reps would have topped Marvin Jones’ 22 reps as the best overall. To give you a little more perspective, all of those numbers beat Justin Blackmon’s workouts.

Reynolds is a JUCO transfer to Iowa State who suffered a knee injury in Week Five of 2009 and missed the rest of the season. When I watched Reynolds, he was one of those players who makes plays that translate to the NFL if he can become a more consistent technician at his position.  This 40-yard reception on a 3rd and 20 pass versus Iowa with 3:03 in the game and down 17-24 is a good example.

Reynolds was the outside receiver at the bottom of the screen in a 2×2 10 personnel shotgun set.

Reynolds runs an out-and-up on this 3rd and 20 pass play. He sets up the double-move with a stutter about 12-15 yards into his route.

The set up of this double-move actually takes a lot of time because of this elongated stem with the stutter move, but he’s big enough and quick enough to accelerate past the defender and gain initial separation. This probably won’t work against a first-team NFL cornerback, but he should be able to get better at routes. It is the willingness to catch the ball in the danger zone of the secondary and the awareness to reduce the impending contact with a subtle move is harder to teach.

With two yards of separation, Reynolds does a good job tracking the ball over his inside shoulder and makes an athletic adjustment to high-point it despite the presence of the Iowa DB with a potential Jack Tatum angle over top.

As Reynolds extends his arms for the ball and makes the catch with his hands, his momentum is carrying him into the path of the Iowa defensive back.

Even with this blurred photo, it is clear enough to see the Iowa defender loading up his right shoulder to deliver a shot to Reynolds.

Let’s look at the catch and Reynolds’ initial move afterwards at a different angle.

This close up demonstrates a strong extension for the ball while airborne. I like the timing he displays to look the ball into his hands at the earliest window of the throw.

As Reynolds makes the reception, he retracts his arms and takes the ball towards his sideline arm, which in theory is the best place to put the ball based on his location on the field.

Within the next split-second, Reynolds gauges the trajectory of the oncoming defender who will be coming from the right of the screen and determines he has to switch the ball to his inside arm.

The oncoming defender is a blur, but he’s leading with his shoulder as Reynolds gets his second step onto terra firma.

Reynolds then makes another small adjustment to counter the impending hit when he dips his outside shoulder. Although he lowers the pad into the defender, he’s actually reducing the shoulder by pulling it inside to avoid just of the contact. This is a subtle but highly effective move.

Reynolds was a four-star recruit as a high school quarterback. I think he has some knowledge of how to reduce the shoulder that actually shows up on this play as a receiver.

Because of Reynolds’ angle, the defender bounces off the receiver and his momentum carries him to the sideline and eventually to the ground.

The blur circled in black is the defender bouncing off Reynolds’ outside shoulder.

Reynolds then demonstrates the strength to drag the pursuing Iowa cornerback eight yards.

Reynolds also demonstrates good strength to prevent the defender from stripping the ball and this forces the defender to slide down the receiver’s legs and hold on for dear life.

This play demonstrates Reynolds’ ability to make a difficult adjustment on the ball and the defender at full speed with impending contact that better-known prospects would have difficulty executing. It’s also worth noting that he had a good two yards of separation on the corner despite route that wasn’t technically refined.

Reynolds displayed similar athleticism and hands versus Baylor. He reminds me a bit of Packers wide receiver James Jones. While unlikely to get drafted, his physical skill and aggressive play is worth remembering.

Download the 2012 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for analysis of over 151 prospects at QB, RB, WR, and TE.

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