Former Virginia Stars Joe Reed, Bryce Hall Selected In 2020 NFL Draft; Perkins Signs UDFA Deal

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Two former University of Virginia football standouts were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, marking the 36th time in the past 37 NFL Drafts that at least one Cavalier player has been selected.

Wide receiver Joe Reed was the first Wahoo to have his name called, going to the Los Angeles Chargers in Round 5 with the 151st overall pick. Cornerback Bryce Hall was taken by the New York Jets seven picks later, also in Round 5.

Reed, Virginia’s all-time leader in kick return yardage and kick return touchdowns, becomes the first Cavalier receiver selected in the NFL Draft since Marques Hagans in 2006. Hagans, who has served as Reed’s position coach the past four seasons, also went in the fifth round.

Reed followed up a stellar season in which he garnered All ACC First-Team All-Purpose honors with a solid showing at the 2020 NFL Combine. The Charlotte Court House (VA) native posted a 4.47-second time in the 40 and a 38-inch vertical leap, feats highlighted by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

“It’s substance over style with Joe Reed,” Kiper said. “He’s got good hands. He has a knack for making acrobatic catch. I like the way he goes from pass-catcher to runner, so he gets some yards after the catch.”

The Athletic reporter Daniel Popper commented:

Reed is part of a 6-man Chargers draft class that also includes No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert, a quarterback out of Oregon. Four of the six draftees are offensive players – Herbert, former UCLA running back Joshua Kelley, Reed, and former Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill.

Reed will be the second former Virginia player in Chargers camp next season, as Los Angeles signed wide receiver/returner Darius Jennings this offseason.

If it were not for a season ending lower leg injury suffered in Virginia’s fifth game last season, Hall likely would have been drafted much earlier. The 6’1”, 202-pound cornerback was a Second-Team All-American as a junior in 2018. According to VirginiaSports.com, Hall had not allowed a catch on 52 press coverage snaps in four full games in 2019 before his senior campaign abruptly ended because of a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle against Miami.

Though he was invited to the 2019 NFL Combine, Hall did not perform in any speed/athleticism events such as the 40. He was able to speak with coaches and front office staff, including the Jets, in Indianapolis.

True to form, the ultra-positive Hall – a Virginia captain in 2019 – dismissed the notion that he will be motivated to prove others that he should have been drafted sooner.

“I didn’t come to the NFL to prove them wrong,” Hall said. “But I will say that where I landed I think it motivated me to work 10 times harder. That’s not my set motivation to prove everybody wrong. I know what I can be one day.”

Evaluating the Jets’ selection of Hall, ESPN’s Louis Riddick said: “He has the kind of football character you’re looking for. This young man will never give up. He will never quit trying to learn the game and get better at it, so this is a great pickup this far down in the draft when you’re talking about football character. This is the kind of guy that you want when you’re picking here in the draft.”

CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli called Hall “amazing value” for the Jets in the fifth round.

Hall says he has returned to good health. The next step of his recovery is returning the ankle to 100%, meaning rehabilitating to the point where he has regained the range of motion and explosiveness he had before the injury.

UVA’s Undrafted Free Agents

PERKINS

While he wasn’t drafted, UVA’s former star quarterback Bryce Perkins signed an undrafted free agent contract soon after the Draft concluded. Perkins, who guided the Hoos to 17 wins, a Coastal Division championship, and two bowl games (including a win in the 2018 Belk Bowl) the past two seasons, has officially signed with the Los Angeles Rams.

The 6’3”, 215-pound Perkins shined in two years in Charlottesville, setting the school career record for total offense with 7,910 yards. At this point it appears he will have a legitimate chance to earn a backup role behind starter Jared Goff. The Rams’ only other quarterback on the roster right now is John Wolford, who signed with Los Angeles in April 2019 after being released from the Jets practice squad. Perkins and San Jose State’s Josh Love have been signed so far as 2020 undrafted free agents.

The Rams feature another former Hoo standout in linebacker Micah Kiser, who is entering his third year with the team.

MACK

Per Jourdan Rodrigue, who covers the Carolina Panthers for The Athletic, former Virginia linebacker Jordan Mack has signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Panthers. Mack started 43 of 47 games played at Virginia the past four years. Injuries hampered his last two seasons, but he has the talent and the versatility – he played outside and inside linebacker at UVA – to earn a spot at Carolina.

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