After what seemed like an interminable period before a Virginia football player was selected in the NFL Draft, Cavaliers fans were rewarded for that wait.
Multi-threat wide receiver Joe Reed and cornerback Bryce Hall were chosen within minutes of each other Saturday in the fifth round with the No. 151 and 158 picks overall.
Reed was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers and Hall by the New York Jets.
Those were the only UVa players to be drafted Saturday, although quarterback Bryce Perkins told the Roanoke Times that he will be trying out for the Los Angeles Rams as a free agent.
“There was interest before but they called me after the draft,” said Perkins, confirming that he also had spoken to New England and Tennessee.
Perkins is from the Southern California area and began his college career at Arizona State.
“It definitely helps that it’s close to home and my family can come up there and visit me,” he said.
He watched the draft from his family’s Arizona home.
“It’s frustrating but I’m used to it, man,” said Perkins, who suffered a broken neck at Arizona State and spent a year in junior college before enrolling at UVa for the 2018 spring semester.
“Ain’t nothin’ changed. I’m still going to go to work like I do.”
Jared Goff is the Rams’ starting quarterback.
Hall, a preseason All-American coming off an All-ACC season in 2018, did not play after suffering a season-ending ankle injury at Miami in the sixth game of the regular season.
However, reports from his rehab were so positive that CBS Sports slotted him as a second-round pick and the No. 50 overall.
He was still available after the first two days and was projected as a fourth-round pick Saturday by ESPN.
For hours, he was on draft guru Mel Kiper’s “best available” board.
“I was at that game in Miami where he got hurt,” said analyst Louis Riddick, who had called that game for ESPN. “We got a chance to talk to the Virginia staff before the game and they really, really loved Bryce Hall, the individual.
“He was one of their most consistent guys. He’s a self-made man, who, in my estimation, thrives in a cover-four, press type of scheme. This is a great pickup, this far down in the draft, when you’re talking football character.”
Reed had 77 receptions for 679 yards and seven touchdowns this past season. He also averaged 33.2 yards on kickoff returns, two for touchdowns.
“It’s substance over style with Joe Reed,” Kiper said. “He has good hands and has a knack for making the acrobatic catch. I like the way he goes from pass-catcher to runner and gets yards after the catch.”
Reed said in a press conference that he also expects to run the ball out of the backfield on occasion.
“Being a bigger guy [at a listed 6 foot 3 and 215 pounds] helps a lot,” Reed told the media, noting that he hopes to learn from Chargers wideouts Mike Williams and Keenan Allen.
“I can line up anywhere and go from there. In four years at UVa, I didn’t drop any deep passes. That’s something I’m definitely capable of doing, being a vertical threat.”
It’s been an adventure trying to find time to prepare for the draft while the nation has been placed under quarantine as a result of the new coronavirus pandemic.
“I didn’t get a lot of sleep [Friday] night just thinking about it,” he said of the draft’s third and last day. “It was stressful as the rounds progressed but it all worked out for me.
“I’ve never been [to California] but I’m definitely ready for the change in scenery.”
Cavaliers add DB from Maryland
William Simpkins III, a 6-foot-2, 175 defensive back from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, confirmed Friday night on Twitter that he has made an oral commitment to Virginia.
Simpkins is one of seven players to commit to UVa for 2021 according to 247sports.com.