Reyes Chosen by Chargers in Second Round

The wait ended for Kendall Reyes around 8:20 p.m. Friday night. That's when the former Connecticut defensive tackle's name was called during the NFL Draft.

Actually, Reyes was tipped off shortly before the rest of the NFL world - and everyone watching on television – when he received a phone call from San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith. He was still on that call when about 30 relatives and friends saw his name pop up on the TV screen.

"I was up with family at a house in Maine," Reyes said during a conference call with reporters later Friday night. "I had to slip out to the back so I could talk to the [Chargers officials] on the phone. No one knew at first, besides me. When it was announced on TV, it got kind of crazy for a little bit. It was definitely fun.

"When I got that phone call, I was like, ‘Hold on, let me answer it. Let's see if it's real or not.' And it was - so it was definitely exciting."

The Chargers made Reyes the 17th pick of the second round and the 49th selection overall in the draft, which began with the first round Thursday night at New York's Radio City Music Hall. There was some thought Reyes might go late in the first round, but most mock drafts projected him as a selection in the first half of the second round. That's exactly where he landed.

And the 6-foot-4, 299-pound lineman wasn't surprised by his destination.

"I had a team visit with them a couple weeks ago, so I definitely had been in contact with them," Reyes said of the Chargers. "I really wasn't expecting much [Thursday] but I knew today was finally the big day. I was just kind of anxious, nervous, excited – a whole bunch of emotions all balled up into one."

Reyes became the second consecutive UConn player selected by the Chargers. San Diego took running back Jordan Todman in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. Todman now is on the Minnesota Vikings roster.

And Reyes becomes just the fifth UConn player drafted in either the first or second round. Donald Brown (2009) is the only former Huskies player to go in the first round. Brown was joined that year by three second-round picks – Darius Butler, William Beatty and Cody Brown.

"It will definitely be along the defensive front," Reyes said when asked how he expects to be used by the Chargers. "They run the 3-4 there so it will be a little bit different. But I'm excited for all that.

"They just want to get better and they want to win [the AFC West] to go far in the playoffs. You definitely have to strengthen up the defense to get that done."

According to Chargers.com, San Diego will ask Reyes to line up inside on third downs and rush the passer in San Diego's nickel package, as well as playing defensive end in the 3-4 base formation.

"We like his quickness," Smith told Chargers.com. "We think he's very athletic for a big man. We think he's also versatile. He's also an outstanding man in so many ways. His character is solid; his work ethic, everything. He's the total package that we were looking for."

Three defensive tackles were selected in the first round and Reyes became the fifth DT taken overall after Denver grabbed Cincinnati's Derek Wolfe with the fourth pick of the second round. Dontari Poe of Memphis was the first selected, by Kansas City with the No. 11 pick in the first round. Poe was followed by Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, who went to Philadelphia, and LSU's Michael Brockers, taken by St. Louis.

"This is a good, solid football player," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said of Reyes. "He's not flashy. He's an athletic kid, plays a little bit high. But you know what you're getting from him. He's a solid 3-technique who will play the 5-technique in San Diego."

A 3-technique player is a defensive lineman who typically lines up on the outside shoulder of a guard. A 5-technique is a defensive lineman who typically lines up on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle.

San Diego obviously was interested in shoring up its defense. The Chargers took South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram with their first round pick, No. 18 overall. And in round three, LSU safety Brandon Taylor was San Diego's choice with the No. 73 pick overall.

In the past two drafts, seven of San Diego's eight picks have been defensive players.

"He'll provide a lot as a pass-rusher," Chargers director of college scouting John Spano said of Reyes. "He's got a quick first step and he can penetrate gaps."

Reyes, a native of Nashua, N.H., was named UConn's Team Most Valuable Player and the Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He was a first team All-Big East pick as a junior and senior. Reyes started 42 games during his UConn career and was third with 13.5 tackles for loss while making 46 total tackles for the Huskies in 2011. In his UConn career, Reyes had 31.5 tackles for a loss – 10th best in school history.

There was some speculation Reyes would be drafted by the New England Patriots, a move that would have made him a hometown favorite. But that didn't develop. Reyes said he doesn't mind moving to the West Coast.

"That's all right; it's just the same as if I was going right down the street," he said. "I gotta do what I gotta do. I really didn't think I was going to New England and, of course, I'm not. I'm definitely happy to be in San Diego."

On Saturday, UConn receiver Kashif Moore and kicker Dave Teggart hope to hear their names called during rounds four through seven of the draft. That begins at noon Saturday, long after Reyes boards a 5:30 a.m. flight to San Diego to meet with his new team.

"Got my bags packed and I'm ready," Reyes said.


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