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Former UND safety Cole Reyes keeping tabs on NFL draft

UND's Cole Reyes picks off a pass intended for Weber State's Andrew Vollert during a 2017 game at the Alerus Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Former UND safety Cole Reyes isn't putting any expectations on the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday night and runs through Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

The All-American and 2016 Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year will be in his hometown near Chicago with family, trying to keep his mind off the process.

"I'll be at my brother's house hanging out," Reyes said. "Every year I watch it, seeing who goes first. But when you're in this situation, it's a little different.

"I probably won't watch Thursday and Friday, do something to keep my mind off it," Reyes said. "I already think about it every day. My friends, that's all they talk about. I don't want to talk about it. It's already all I think about. Saturday will be the day I'll be anxious and nervous."

The first round of the draft is Thursday, followed by the next two rounds on Friday and Rounds 4-7 on Saturday.

NFL draft analysts, who vary widely on Reyes' ranking, mosty peg him as a late-round pick or a free-agent signing.

UND hasn't had a player drafted in the NFL draft since offensive lineman Chris Kuper went in the fifth round to the Denver Broncos in 2006.

Although UND hasn't had a player drafted in that stretch, recent former players like Greg Hardin (Denver Broncos), Will Ratelle (Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons) and Weston Dressler (Chiefs) signed NFL free-agent deals and participated in preseason camps and games although none have played in a regular-season NFL game.

NFL.com has given Reyes, who is 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, a player rating of 5.10, which the website characterizes as a prospect with a 50-50 chance to make an NFL roster.

Reyes said he's been in contact with about half of the NFL teams.

"It's hard to tell," Reyes said, "but it's probably Saturday if it's to happen. I don't like to make assumptions where I might go and just let things fall in place."

A playmaker during his time in Grand Forks, Reyes' biggest criticism is his durability. He battled through injuries in all five seasons with UND.

Reyes' NFL draft profile reads: "Instinctive safety whose combination of size and athleticism has made him one of the most productive players in school history and allowed him to dominate his level of competition in 2016. While Reyes has the talent to play in a scheme that asks more of its safeties, his draft value could be complicated by durability concerns that have shown up in every year he's played. Reyes is an intriguing NFL prospect who needs to stay healthy and play a little tougher brand of football."

After participating in Northwestern's Pro Day in Chicago, Reyes underwent tricep surgery on the injury that forced him to miss most of the 2017 season.

Reyes felt his numbers were strong at the Pro Day, officially clocking a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash.

"The biggest thing was how I run and I felt I passed that test and teams were able to see me run pretty well," Reyes said. "My agent said the scouts liked my numbers."

Still needing the tricep surgery, Reyes said he took it easy in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., in January.

He discussed with his agent that Reyes would go through practice during the week but not play much in the game.

"I went to practice and had a really good week and had some good plays and stood out," said Reyes.

After UND's season ended, Reyes trained in Florida with some of the NFL draft's top prospects including some analysts' No. 1 ranked safety—Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Reyes knows his injury past is a knock on his stock, but he pointed out none of his injuries have been re-occuring problems.

Whether Reyes is drafted or signed as a free agent, he's looking forward to getting back on the field.

"Once I'm out there, playing football, that's where I can show what I can do," he said. "That's where I'm most confident. I'm definitely excited and anxious to get out there and see what happens."

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department since 2004. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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