"And the fly says 'the backstroke'. THE BACKSTROKE! GET IT?" (Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE)
Congratulations, professional football fans! Your favorite team has made the wonderful decision to draft Riley Reiff! Like any responsible selector, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new draft pick. We here at Black Heart Gold Pants will try our best to answer any questions you might have.
So, Is This Guy Any Good? Well, you just used a first round pick on him, so he'd better be. And he is. Reiff came to Iowa as a defensive end and a former high school heavyweight wrestler, moved to offensive line after a redshirt year, and quickly became the best lineman on an eleven-win team with a future first-round left tackle (Bryan Bulaga) and two other eventual draftees. The next year, he assumed Bulaga's position on the left flank and never left. He never suffered a serious injury, never begged off the front line. He's tough, he's nasty, and he's tenacious. He's also an Iowa left tackle, which means he was trained by the guy who used to coach Jonathan Ogden with Baltimore and a gaggle of offensive linemen you know from Sundays, so you're getting a pro-ready technician. He's also good at running naked from the police.
Well golly gee willikers, sounds like we killed it! Hooray for General Manager! Eh...not so fast. Honestly, we're a bit surprised that he's so highly regarded. We're not experts at grading the performance of offensive linemen, to be sure, but after his breakout sophomore season, Reiff shifted to full-time left tackle and seemed to plateau. He remained a perfectly excellent college lineman and exponentially better than his linemates, but he wasn't transcendent. He was never the dominant physical force that Robert Gallery was. He was never the sort of tenacious oversized track star that Bryan Bulaga was. He remained an excellent run blocker, especially in Iowa's zone running scheme, but he wasn't exactly a wall on his quarterback's blind side. Again, this is perception from a novice, and could well be a result of him being placed next to clearly inferior players in the two seasons since 2009, but a top 15 selection could reflect the shallow talent pool at left tackle in this draft even more than his ability.
What was that about the police? Reiff was involved in a small but hilarious run-in with the police when he was eighteen. Reportedly, he was found by police officers in some state of undress in downtown Iowa City -- if you've never been to Iowa City while eighteen years old, this is not an uncommon occurrence -- and led said police officers on a chase through downtown, eventually knocking over some trays at a late-night pita shop just for good measure. It's nothing; he was a kid (not even enrolled in college yet), he made a mistake, he never did anything untoward again, and he eventually became a team leader of some renown. Of course, in the modern NFL, the incident will knock him down five spots, and Michael Irvin will show up on your television in a seven-button suit and tell you the demerit is justified.
Anything else we should know about? He has short arms. I mean, really short arms. Comically short. Like a tyrannosaurus rex. His three-point stance is hilarious.