The Eagles continued addressing defense in the fifth round on Saturday, adding Oregon defensive lineman Taylor Hart and Stanford safety Ed Reynolds with their two picks. Hart became the second Oregon player drafted this weekend. Reynolds becomes the second Stanford player selected in the past two seasons.
Hart, who is 6-foot-6 and 281 pounds and 23-years old, is an ideal fit for what the Eagles desire in a defensive end in their 3-4 defense. He was a starter under coach Chip Kelly and was a second-team all-Pac 12 performer as a senior last season. Hart is close with defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro and already knows the Eagles’ scheme.
I guarantee he's going to be a step above some guys in terms of his knowledge of what we're doing already,” Kelly said.
Hart received a phone call from Kelly and also spoke to Azzinaro. Kelly told him, “We’re putting the family back together.”
Kelly said that two-gap defensive ends are difficult to find, and the Eagles actually considered taking Hart in the third round. General manager Howie Roseman guaranteed Kelly that Hart would be available to select in the fifth round.
“I think it’s my size,” Hart said about why he works for the Eagles’ scheme. “I’m a bigger, longer kind of guy who fits a 3-4 defense and it’s a lot of technique that goes into playing this position, and I think that’s a pretty good advantage for me.”
Reynolds, who is 6-1 and 207 pounds, was a third-team all-American in 2012 when he had six interceptions, three of which were returned for a score. He returned to Stanford in 2013 believing his redshirt junior season would be his final season if he played well.
There was a statistical decline – he had only one interception – but Reynolds said that was because quarterbacks did not test him as much. He improved his tackling, he said, and believed he was ready to come into the NFL. The Eagles believed Reynolds would have been a much higher pick had he stayed in school, so thought there was clear value in the fifth round.
“2012 was kind of my breakout year, and it was the year I made game-changing plays,” Reynolds said. “Going into this past year, I kind of knew it was going to be hard to match [those numbers]. …A lot of quarterbacks I played stayed away from me, tried to attack our corners, but in the end, I feel like I became a more productive, overall player as a sure tackler coming out of the hole. …Just becoming an all-around better football player and putting all my tools together.”
Reynolds played deep safety often for Stanford, although he played more man and came down into the box more in 2013. He is the son of former Patriots and Giants linebacker by the same name. Reynolds visited the Eagles facility as a middle schooler living in Lawrenceville, N.J., and impressed the Eagles with his football intelligence when returned for his pre-drafts this spring.
“He grew up around the game and you can sense that around him,” Kelly said. “You can tell how much he loves playing football. Physical, hard-nosed. …We really feel good about getting him.”