Optimism In The Undrafted: Can Reinders Be Next Cribbs?

5 05 2010

One reason I love Browns fans: We are so hopelessly optimistic about our teams, despite what rational reasoning tells us.

Finish a season at the bottom of the barrel? We may be downtrodden for a bit, but it only takes one new regime change and the excitement of the NFL Draft to get everyone looking forward to the next year.

This everlasting buoyancy even finds its way from late round draft picks (I’m admittedly a little turgid over 6th round picks Carlton Mitchell and Clifton Geathers) to the undrafted rookie free agents.

Sure, those undrafted free agents have about a 95% chance of getting cut. But to a Browns fan? That glass is 5% full! In fact, it sort of reminds me of this scene:

We can probably all thank Joshua Cribbs for aiding to our disregard of statistics. As an undrafted rookie free agent, Cribbs defied the odds by making the team through his guts and willingness to do whatever it took to make the team on special teams. He defied the odds even more by becoming an integral part of the team. He continues to defy the odds today with each Pro Bowl trip and broken NFL record.

So in an effort to find the Next Josh Cribbs, I’ll be highlighting a few unsung prospects leading up to OTAs and training camp. Today, I’ll be looking at undrafted free agent Joel Reinders.

Joel Reinders, Offensive Tackle, University of Waterloo

  • Apparently, the Canadian prospect caught the attention of the Browns scouting staff from the very YouTube video seen above. I doubt that video was all that was considered when they offered Reinders a contract. But even if it was, who could blame them? The guy looks like a beast.

    Check out that Handlebar!

  • If the video wasn’t enough for them, then maybe his headshot did the trick. He just looks like a mean person. I’m not saying he goes around stealing children’s ice cream and punting puppies. I’m just saying that it looks like he would give two sh*ts if he bashed you in the throat on the football field. Oh wait. That happened in the first play of his highlight video!
  • Seriously, check the video out again. On that first play, it looks like he unapologetically collapsed a guys trachea.
  • Moving on to other random thoughts not concerning the video or his mugshot…
  • The first thing that jumps out to me is his size. At 6’8″ 320 lbs, Reinders towers over everyone. The other thing that jumps out to me is his athleticism. He played basketball for two years at the University of Waterloo. He played basketball in college so he has to be pretty agile, right? But because he originally only played basketball, he has limited exposure to football. In fact, he only played in eight games at Waterloo.
  • Now, logic says that having playing only eight games simply means he’s inexperienced. But to a Browns fan like myself? All it screams is untapped potential. And I’m only half kidding. Obviously such little experience to football should serve as a cautionary flag to optimism. But at the same time, Antonio Gates played basketball at Kent State and hadn’t played an organized game of football since high school. I’m not saying Reinders will have the same success as Gates. I’m just saying you never know.
  • I’m excited to see how he handles the coaching. Say what you want about finding a prospect via YouTube, but a guy that is 6’8 320 who is strong with quick feet has potential. You can’t teach size or athleticism, but you can teach technique.
  • As an offensive tackle, he also comes in at a position of need. Obviously not left tackle, Joe Thomas has that on lockdown. But the right tackle position has been unsteady to say the least. Ryan Tucker was a good player, but had other issues. Since, there has been a bit of a revolving door with Kevin Shaffer, John St. Clair, and Porkchop Womack starting at the position in recent years. Now comes in Tony Pashos. Again, as an optimist, I’ll hope its a solid pick up — but he’ll still be over 30 at the start of the season.
  • At the very least, Reinders is an intriguing possibility to develop into the long term answer to the Browns right tackle position.

I know the odds are stacked against him. But he’s got enough potential to think he might just make it.

Might. Its a mighty word in Cleveland, isn’t it?

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