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San Diego Chargers Nab UConn DE Reyes In NFL’s 2nd Round

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Kendall Reyes  (Courtesy University of Connecticut)

Kendall Reyes (Courtesy University of Connecticut)

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By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ The San Diego Chargers set a tone by taking
defensive players with their first three picks in the NFL draft.
Two of them are from the SEC.

After picking outside linebacker Melvin Ingram in the first
round on Thursday night, the Chargers took defensive end Kendall
Reyes of Connecticut in the second round and then traded up five
spots in the third round to take LSU strong safety Brandon Taylor.

“We’ve gotten three very athletic players that have had great
production in college,” coach Norv Turner said. “I think they all
come in and are able to contribute and compete right away. It
wouldn’t bother me a bit if we had another defensive player.”

The Chargers need the help. They have only one playoff win in
four seasons and have missed the postseason the last two years.

Their defense was the worst in the NFL on third-down
conversions.

Reyes will help bolster the mediocre line and Taylor will
compete with free agent acquisition Atari Bigby for the starting
job at strong safety.

Reyes’ selection with the 49th pick overall came one year after
the Chargers used their first-round pick on defensive end Corey
Liuget. Liuget had a quiet rookie season.

“We want to improve the front seven. We thought he fit with
what we like to do,” said player personnel director Jimmy Raye,
who assumes the public face of the front office during the draft.
“We’re just trying to add good players. We like the players we
have in our mix already but we just want to keep adding to the
front and try to get better.”

Known mainly for his run-stuffing ability, Reyes had a
career-high 46 tackles and was third on the team with 41/2 sacks last
season.

He had 321/2 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in his career,
10th on the school’s all-time list.

“I was blessed to have a quick first step,” Reyes said. “I’m
definitely ready to work with the coaches and be able to take my
pass rushing ability to the next level and hopefully make a
difference when it comes to the pass rush this year.”

Said Raye: “He’s an athletic guy; speed, burst, athleticism, I
think it all stands out for us, a guy 299, 300 pounds, who ran a
4.82. The quickness, the energy he plays with, is something that
was appealing to us.”

Turner said Reyes can have an early impact in substitution
packages as an interior rusher.

“We’ve added two guys that when they’re on the field will do a
great job of chasing down the quarterback when we’re able to get
pressure on him; making plays from sideline to sideline,” Turner
said of Reyes and Ingram.

Taylor was a team captain and started all 14 games last season
for LSU, which lost to Alabama in the BCS national championship
game.

“I just love to hit. I will tackle anybody,” he said. `’I love
to cover and play on special teams, just go out and make big
plays.”

As a senior, he wore No. 18, which is handed down to a player
who has high character and leadership qualities.

Chargers fullback Jacob Hester wore No. 18 for LSU in his senior
season.

“He exhibits a lot of the same qualities as Jacob,” Raye said.
Hester was pleased with the pick, tweeting: “Brandon Taylor!!!
That’s two (hash)18 LSU Tigers on the Super Chargers!!”

Raye said it makes sense to draft players from the SEC.

“It is a rich football conference. I think that’s obvious. I
think there’s a lot of depth in that conference,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good football players in the Southeastern
Conference. You’ve got to tap into it if you see good football
players down there.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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