Picks in the lower rounds of the NFL draft tend to be fairly mundane. Most of the time they tend to be lower end prospects from the big, football factory schools or FCS/DII stars that NFL scouting departments are taking a flyer on. With pick number 182 of the 2016 NFL Draft however the Baltimore Ravens took Keenan Reynolds. One of the most productive players in FBS history and a player than has intrigued the professional personnel departments of NFL teams all over the country.
Reynolds becomes the first service academy player ever to be drafted by the Ravens franchise. In many was the proximity of the Naval Academy to the home of the Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, should have given away that Baltimore would have had interest in him. The Ravens had however kept a lid on their interest in Reynolds, a shrewd move that kept the other teams perhaps in the running for his services in the dark about their intentions.
According to reports it was at the East-West Shrine game where Reynolds really caught the attention of the Ravens brass. At that event the team saw the acceleration and shiftiness that became a hallmark of Reynolds in his time under center at Navy. They say much of life is about connections and who you know, and that proved to be the case for Reynolds too. Reynolds worked with former All-Pro returner Brian Mitchell to get better at fielding kicks. On Saturday morning head coach John Harbaugh called Mitchell to enquire about Reynolds progress. His report sealed the deal on the pick.
"We're just lucky that we got him and we got him in a good spot," assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. "He's going to come in here and hopefully become a slot receiver and become one of the best punt returners in the NFL."
This would seem to be the perfect fit for Reynolds. The close proximity of the Naval Academy could mean he is able to work a schedule a little like the one Joe Cardona has with the Patriots. If not, Reynolds will have to fulfill his two year service commitment before joining the team.
The punt/kick return and slot receiver option always looked like a better fit for Reynolds than as a running back. The NFL still has a huge market for small receivers who are lightning quick in and out of their breaks and Reynolds would look to have the skill set to be just that kind of player. He is also incredibly smart, another need for the position, and has proven that he is great at not taking huge hits that shorten a career at the position (see Welker, Wes).
The next few days will be telling as this is when Reynolds will find out his Navy future. Either way, Reynolds is going to be fun to watch whenever he gets to pull on the uniform of the Baltimore Ravens.