Thursday marked the release of the invite list for the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, and with the combine inviting all of the expected names the biggest story of the day was the one star player of the 2015 NCAA season that didn’t get invited. With the biggest news being that Navy’s Keenan Reynolds, who led Navy to one of their best seasons in the modern era and set NCAA rushing records at quarterback, managed to not get invited to this year’s combine.
Reynolds was perhaps the best story in college football this past season, dazzling the nation with his rushing exploits. Eventually setting the career record for rushing touchdowns with 88 and earning his third straight 1000 yard rushing season to end his career with the Midshipmen. Numbers that make him one of the best rushers in the nation, despite playing quarterback in the triple option.
That positional problem for Reynolds, a successful runner at quarterback whose only chance in the NFL is at in the backfield, is what makes his draft process so important. Reynolds needs to show scouts that he can measure up in the combine drills at the same level as the other running backs in the 2016 class. With no tape at running back, scouts can only evaluate what Reynolds does in drills and workouts to see if the talents rusher has what it takes to become a backfield runner.
Now that he has no chance to impress scouts at the combine, the odds of Reynolds being drafted have taken a serious hit. As the concerns over his ability to even play football with his service requirements to the Navy and the concerns if he can convert to running back have put him in limbo.
Most concerning for Reynolds could be the reports out of his week at the Shrine Game in which one anonymous scout who attended the week’s events told NFL.com that the quarterback could be out of position at running back and instead best used as a wideout.
“I would like to see him play in the slot rather than taking these dumb zone-read snaps. I don’t think he’s a running back, but he might be a slot receiver. I just need to see him get some legitimate receiver snaps.” — AFC scout on Reynolds (per NFL.com).
With negative reports already surfacing surrounding his potential to be a running back and no combine invite, the future looks bleak for the electric Navy quarterback. 29 running backs earned invites to the combine, and 332 prospects in total, which goes to show just how up against it the record-setting running quarterback is when it comes to being drafted at the end of this process.
Now the only chance Reynolds has to show scouts that he has what it takes to make the jump to the NFL at a new position will be his Navy pro day. An event that will show just which teams are interested in Reynolds in the late rounds as he is Navy’s sole draft prospect this year. If Reynolds can show that he has what it takes after a few weeks of prep following his less than impressive Shrine Game performance, there may be a narrative change regarding his draft chances even if it is a long shot.
There may still be a team that sees Reynolds pure running ability and skill in the open field that gives the Navy star a chance, but the player who holds the record for collegiate rushing touchdowns has a very real chance to never play in the NFL. The news that Reynolds won’t even be amongst the 332 players and 29 running backs invited to the combine shows just how close he is to fading out of the spotlight as quickly as Reynolds earned the national attention in his senior season. Now the only hope is that the dynamic runner can convince one team, any team, to give him a chance in the late rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.