The Washington Football Team announced that they signed tight end Sammis Reyes on Tuesday. In acquiring Reyes from the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, their offense may have a new secret weapon entering the 2021 season.
Now, it’s important to temper expectations here. Reyes played college basketball at Tulane and doesn’t have any organized football experience. There’s no guarantee he’ll make the final 53-man roster and might be lucky to be on the practice squad.
On the other hand, tight ends in particular such as Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham, have made the leap from the hardwood to the gridiron before to spectacular results.
Perhaps something similar is in store for Reyes based on his meteoric rise through the NFL’s international initiative, which he entered into as a native of Chile.
Sammis Reyes’ pro day suggests huge potential
The Florida Gators had their pro day a while back. Uniquely explosive playmakers such as Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney turned scouts’ heads, but Reyes wasn’t necessarily overshadowed.
With massive measurements and demonstrated freakish athleticism especially for his size, Reyes established himself as a legitimate NFL prospect who Washington obviously couldn’t pass up:
Most evaluators don’t put stock only in what a workout warrior does without pads on, but these figures are eye-popping. The 31 bench reps and 40-inch vertical leap suggest Reyes has plenty of explosive strength to block, beat jams at the line of scrimmage and high-point the ball when he goes out to catch passes. It’s a matter of learning the nuances and techniques.
As we’ve seen in the cases of Gates, Gonzalez and Graham, rebounding in basketball translates well to ball skills in the NFL. The fact that Reyes can also run as fast as he does means with the proper coaching in the nation’s capital, he could develop into a special player.
Why Sammis Reyes is unique among international NFL prospects
The two players who’ve been drafted from the NFL’s international program are tight end Moritz Boehringer and offensive tackle Jordan Mailata. Boehringer was last seen with the Cincinnati Bengals‘ practice squad last offseason and was waived in August. Mailata struggled to stay healthy but played in 15 games and started 10 for Philadelphia in 2020.
To detour for a second into fun fact land: Buffalo Bills tailback Christian Wade scored a 65-yard touchdown in his first preseason carry, but hasn’t seen regular-season action since joining the team in 2019. Most of the other prospects who’ve come through the pipeline haven’t panned out.
So why is Reyes a possible exception? Well, it has something to do with the circumstances he’s entering into, his obvious physical tools and upside and the fact that he’s the first international NFL prospect to be converting from basketball, rather than soccer or rugby.
For one thing, there’s not a lot of competition in Washington’s tight end room. Per Ourlads, the current group consists of Temarrick Hemingway, who’s on his fourth different team since entering the NFL in 2016 and has one career catch. Also on the depth chart are former undrafted free agent Marcus Baugh, and converted college quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.
Beyond Logan Thomas, who is also a former QB out of Virginia Tech and is starting to come into his own at the position, it’s not exactly the most decorated group of players. This presents an opening for Reyes to pounce on.
What also helps the cause is the presence of a veteran signal-caller in Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead the offense. Fitzpatrick is the ultimate NFL journeyman, so he can certainly relate to having a unique odyssey to earning a big opportunity on the grand NFL stage. Fitzmagic is essentially another coach on the field.
Finally, it’d be easy for Reyes to be a situational specialist as a red-zone decoy or legitimate target. The tighter windows in the scoring area can be daunting, but teams who have big-bodied pass-catchers like Reyes to throw to can enjoy a big advantage.
Especially with free-agent wide receiver Curtis Samuel joining the fold, the Football Team has ample weapons on offense. Between Samuel, Thomas, No. 1 wideout Terry McLaurin and two capable pass-catching backs in Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic, there wouldn’t be a ton of pressure on Reyes to succeed right away. Plus, he’d likely draw favorable matchups when called upon thanks to the presence of all those aforementioned pass-catchers.
Whatever happens with Reyes going forward, Washington made a low-risk, high-reward bargain of a move by signing him. The hope is Reyes can stay with the Football Team, build his understanding of the game and ultimately be unleashed as an X-factor for the reigning NFC East champions.