ROOKIE YEAR (2012): Reyes played in all 16 games in 2012, and eventually got more playing time halfway through the season (started four games and logged 322 snaps over final seven games). He quickly made the transition from a defensive tackle to a 5-tech defensive end, becoming a very productive pass rusher. Who would have thought a rookie from Connecticut would end the season ranked second behind Texans phenom J.J. Watt, holding a 8.1 grade for Pass Rushing Productivity. He compiled five sacks, seven hits and 21 hurries for a total of 33 QB pressures in 320 pass rush snaps, per PFF. The only negative to Reyes’ games was stopping the run, where he graded out negatively in that category.
After finishing off his rookie campaign in beast-mode (I know you didn’t forget about those 3.5 sacks against the Jets), Reyes experienced a sophomore slump. He was promoted to full-time starter (played and started all 16 games), and according to PFF, he was the worst ranked 3-4 defensive end in 2013. Reyes’ strength was rushing the passer, and his regression could have been the result of Cam Thomas playing the nose tackle position. In 2012, Aubrayo Franklin‘s big-bodied frame took on multiple blockers, freeing up pressure for Reyes and Corey Liuget to attack and close the gap. This affected the team as whole, as PFF ranked the Chargers 28th overall in pass rush success. If fifth-round rookie Ryan Carrethers can come in and fill the void at nose tackle, Reyes could be on the verge of a bounce-back year.
ROOKIE YEAR (2013): Te’o appeared in 13 games in 2013, making 12 starts. He tallied 61 tackles and broke up four passes to finish the season. One of the main disappointments with Te’o involved turnovers, or lack thereof: he did not record a sack, interception or force a fumble. At the end of the season, PFF graded him positively in coverage, but negatively in stopping the run. Te’o, and the entire defense for that matter, struggled against the run last season, allowing nine 100-yard rushing games (that’s not including both playoff games either). It’s hard to knock Te’o because he was slowed by injuries. He sprained his right foot in last year’s training camp, and underwent surgery in January to repair the injury.
The general consensus on Te’o is he struggled as a rookie. He was taken in the second round with high expectations, a plug-and-play starter if you will, and hasn’t been the impact player the Chargers were hoping for. The Chargers ranked third-worst in the NFL at forcing turnovers with only 17, and were in the top half of the league in allowing rushing touchdowns (14). Te’o was also out of position at times. An article by Bleacher Report takes a more in-depth look at Te’o’s struggles and where he ranked among other linebackers. Numbers aside, the criticism of Te’o is unfair and overlooked. He has only one season under his belt; a season where he was essentially playing on one foot (which I applaud him for doing). While some say he won’t mold into a future star, I believe he will be the turnover machine he once was at Notre Dame.
Jeremiah Attaochu ended his four-year career for the Yellow Jackets with 31.5 sacks, the most in Georgia Tech history (5th overall in ACC since 1980, passing studs like Julius Peppers and Mario Williams). He was named first team All-ACC as well as third team All-American in 2013. Attaochu has a knack for creating chaos in the backfield, but first he needs to find his way up a crowded depth chart before making any impact.