Lavonte David, Phil Loadholt, Lane Johnson, Jason Verrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Aaron Rodgers. These are just a few recent examples of productive NFL players who started their college careers in junior college when no Division 1 team offered them a scholarship. Taking the junior college route is admirable because it shows character and dedication to earning a scholarship when a player was ignored and made to believe that they weren’t good enough to play in college. Josh Reynolds has a chance to be another junior college to NCAA to NFL success story.
In high school, Reynolds played both safety and wide receiver and was rated as a three-star recruit, while also excelling in basketball and track. However, he was never offered a football scholarship from a D-1 school. Oregon State had interest, but when the school told him all the recruiting spots at receiver were filled, Reynolds didn’t give up his football dream, and enrolled in Tyler Junior College. After playing well there his freshman year, Reynolds received multiple offers from D-1 schools, and ultimately chose the one that offered him a partial scholarship for track in high school, Texas A&M.
Three years have passed and Reynolds has not disappointed. Racking up 164 catches, 2,788 receiving yards and 30 receiving touchdowns, he is far and away the most productive SEC receiver of the last three years. But production is only part of the evaluation. How was Reynolds so productive? Let’s dive into the film.
Reynolds averaged exactly 17 yards-per-reception at Texas A&M, as he was a consistent vertical threat for the high powered offense in College Station. Reynolds has the look of a tall lanky athlete, with a long lower body, and this length allows him to take long strides and build up speed as he tracks the ball. He may not be a lightning bolt out of the gate like John Ross, but cornerbacks had a tough task keeping up with the 6’3” Reynolds on go routes:
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Here, you see the deep speed and tracking ability Reynolds has. After getting a clean release, Reynolds doesn’t really ever spatially separate from the corner, but with the way he accelerates while tracking the ball, he is never in danger of losing a step in the foot race. The corner just runs of of gas and Reynolds is still going full speed.
This is why I’m not concerned about his average 4.52 40-yard dash time at the Scouting Combine. Reynolds has adequate speed out of the gate, but his long speed is what makes the difference on deep balls. As long as there is enough air under the throw, Reynolds can get to it. And he has no issue making a contested catch down the sideline if the cornerback remains in his hip pocket.
We know that Reynolds has plenty of play speed to his game. And along with that speed, Reynolds does a good job consistently selling it on the way to the top of his vertical route stem:
At the top of the screen, Reynolds is lined up across from potential first-round cornerback Tre’Davious White, who’s playing off-man coverage. The things to notice from Reynolds on this seemingly routine throw and catch, is how quickly he gets in a sprinter’s stance. So right at the snap, Reynolds establishes great bend in his running stance, which tells White, who’s job is really only to keep Reynolds in front of him, that he is running a vertical route. In this case, a curl. Reynolds is selling the vertical route with no wasted movement in his release, and great bend in his stance. At the top of the route, Reynolds shows he can dig his foot in the ground and stop on dime to make the turn on the curl, and then adjusts a bit to minimize the distance of the throw.
This is a showcase of great technique and precision in his routes. If you can sell your speed leading up to the break, you already have the corner in your back pocket. Finishing the route with efficient footwork is the icing on the cake.
Reynolds measured in at the combine with 31 1/2” arms, which actually only placed him in the 36th percentile for this year’s class. But on tape, Reynolds still possesses a wide catch radius when adjusting to slightly off-target throws.
Here against LSU again, he’s stacked behind the split-end receiver and makes a great 1-handed grab on a ball thrown well behind his out-breaking route:
And here against Mississippi State, he is able to haul in an outstretched catch after getting excellent separation:
Reynolds does a lot better adjusting to high and wide throws than he does with low balls away from him, as his long lower half creates difficulty for him catching passes below the waist, but I don’t think it’s a big issue.
A negative to his game that I do think is a legitimate problem is how inconsistent his footwork is coming out of the starting block:
These two examples both came in the LSU game, but it showed up from time-to-time in the other games I studied, too. The false steps need, NEED, to get cleaned up and erased from his muscle memory immediately if he wants to become a great route runner and win in the small game like he can win in the big game. It shouldn’t be too big of an issue, but it’s to me one of the things that can turn off coaches and scouts in the evaluation process. Again, it didn’t come up a lot, but it came enough where I had to address it.
Going back to catch radius, Reynolds’ game is most effectively used in jump ball scenarios, and he’s a bona fide asset in the red zone.
Reynolds’s aforementioned production really was as vast as it looks on paper, because Texas A&M looked to him whenever they needed a score. Here against Mississippi State again, A&M is facing a fourth and two inside the five yard-line, while down two touchdowns with a little over a minute and a half remaining in the game. Where do they go? To someone who can do this:
The capability to make the spectacular catch is an asset possessed by few and it amazes many; Reynolds undoubtedly has that ability. Some guys are just dogs when the ball is the air, those with not only the ability to time the jump, but the mentality to attack the ball, and make sure that no one else is coming down with it but them.
This is probably my favorite play from Reynolds. It’s a tremendous play on the ball from the leap to the hand strength required to haul in the pass, but the context of the play is what makes it great.
Earlier in this game against Kansas State, which was Texas A&M’s bowl game, Reynolds goes up for a last second hail mary before halftime, but it was too short and he was unable to make a play on it. He’s thrown down to the ground and taunted by #10 for Kansas State, a cornerback named Donnie Starks. Both teams went into the locker room, and it’s safe to say Reynolds had Starks on the hit list.
On Texas A&M’s first possession of the second half, they got all the way down to the red zone, Reynolds had a one-on-one against Starks, and let him go to work. Seeing Reynolds stare down Starks after hauling in the reception tells me he’s a gamer. He’s not going to accept being beat or messed with, he’s going to respond and make sure you remember him. That is one of, if not the most important asset on his scouting profile, in my opinion.
The Bengals are going to draft a receiver relatively early in the draft, and it’s obvious they need a vertical threat at the position. Not only does Reynolds provide the deep speed and ball tracking ability the team lacked last year after Marvin Jones left, but he is a proven drive finisher. The Bengals averaged just 20.3 points per game and dropped to 53.7% in red zone efficiency after averaging 26.2 points per game and converting red zone trips to touchdowns 65% of the time in 2015, so adding Reynolds to the Red Rifle’s arsenal could be just what the Bengals need at the position. In the third or fourth round, you could do a whole lot worse than the former JuCo transfer who once had no D-1 offers.
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 194 lbs
Arm Length: 31½"
Hand Size: 9⅜"
40 Yard Dash: 4.52s
Vertical Jump: 37"
Broad Jump: 124"
3-Cone Drill: 6.83s
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.13s
60 Yard Shuttle: 11.32s
MockDraftable.com has him closely comparable with Chris Henry.