But adding offseason depth for NFL teams does not end with the selection of Mr. Irrelevant.
As soon as the draft ends teams begin furiously calling the top players who went undrafted. Last year the Carolina Panthers were able to land Byron Bell and RJ Stanford as undrafted free agents and both saw meaningful playing time in 2011.
This year, the Panthers may have hit it big by signing undrafted tackle Matt Reynolds from BYU.
Dan Pompei of Yahoo! Sports NFLPost.com listed Reynolds among his "All-Undrafted Players Team." I have watched Matt Reynolds for the past four years and completely agree with Pompei's assessment.
Matt Reynolds going from BYU to the Carolina Panthers is the perfect storm for me as a fan of both teams. I was born and raised just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah as a die-hard BYU fan and graduated from BYU in 1999. My wife and I then moved to North Carolina in 2003 and I have been a faithful Panthers fan ever since.
Matt Reynolds is right in my personal football sweet spot (BYU plus the Panthers), but my excitement for the Panthers adding Reynolds has more to do with his NFL potential than simply sharing my alma mater with him.
Matt Reynolds' Stellar BYU Career
Matt Reynolds was a four-year starter at BYU and his 52 career starts tied him for the most in BYU's history.
As a freshman in 2008 Matt Reynolds was named to the Freshman All-American team by numerous publications, including the Football Writers Association of America and Rivals.com. As a sophomore in 2009 he was selected as All-Mountain West Conference First Team, an honor that would follow in 2010 and 2011 as well.
Reynolds hit the national radar during his break-out season as a junior in 2010 and was listed as a "late first or second-round pick" in the NFL Draft following his dominant junior campaign.
Matt Reynolds elected to bypass the draft and return for his senior year at BYU. He started his 2011 senior season as a preseason All-American by ESPN.com, USA Today, and other publications. After a shoulder injury that required surgery before his senior season, Reynolds played well but saw his draft stock drop going into the 2012 NFL Draft.
Some football fans may want to dismiss or diminish Reynolds' college career because he played in the second-tier Mountain West for three years followed by one year as an Independent. True, the MWC is not the SEC or Big 12, but two of the Panthers best players - All-Pro's Jordan Gross and Steve Smith - are both products of the Mountain West Conference, so Matt Reynolds' college productivity should not be diminished by the level of talent he competed against.
Off the field Matt Reynolds was named to the MWC's All-Academic team three times. At age 26 he is also mature after having served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Germany.
"The Helmet-less Block Felt 'Round the World"
Exciting football highlights rarely feature an offensive lineman. Instead, players at skill positions get the glory and the Sports Center replays. Dwight Clark has "The Catch." David Tyree has "The Helmet Catch." John Elway has "The Drive."
But Matt Reynolds is the exception here with his signature "Helmetless Block" which led to a Cougars touchdown and eventual victory in the 2011 Armed Services Bowl and landed Reyndold on ESPN.com's 2012 All-Bowl Team.
Panthers fans, just watch this clip of "The Helmetless Block" in its entirety. The clip runs for 1:46, so be patient. The reason to watch the entire clip is because there is more here than just an awesome de-cleater. Watch how the sideline responds to Matt Reynolds. Watch his teammates congratulate him. Watch the coaching staff. They love the guy, and it shows.
There is a reason BYU selected Matt Reynolds, an offensive lineman, as team captain. The clip shows how much Matt Reynolds teammates respected him.
Matt Reynolds' Future in Carolina
As a BYU fan I was surprised Matt Reynolds went undrafted. As a Panthers fan I am thrilled Carolina was able to sign him.
Productive? Smart? Mature? A leader? What more can a team ask for when it signs an undrafted free agent?
To be clear, I am not predicting Matt Reynolds will become a starter anytime soon. With the depth the Panthers already have on the offensive line it will be an uphill battle for Matt Reynolds to even get a roster spot.
However, I have seen enough of Matt Reynolds in college to believe he can have a productive, meaningful NFL career.
As a fan of both BYU and the Panthers, I am pleased his career will begin here in Carolina.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Carolina Panthers fan. More from this author:
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- American Football
- Carolina Panthers