Instant Analysis: Jalen Reagor to Philadelphia

By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

It was no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles were in dire need of a wide receiver. Carson Wentz became the first quarterback in NFL History to throw for over 4,000 yards and not have a single wide receiver top the 500-yard plateau. If that stat alone doesn’t tell you the Eagles were itching to add to their offense in Round 1, you clearly didn’t watch much football in 2019.

After Henry Ruggs went to Las Vegas with the 12th pick and Jerry Jeudy went to Denver with the 15th pick, it felt like magic was about to happen. Rumors had been swirling for a little more than a week that Eagles GM Howie Roseman was going to do everything in his power to trade up to get Oklahoma standout CeeDee Lamb. When Atlanta was unable to move up to draft CB C.J. Henderson, it felt like a prime spot for them to move down and get one of the 2nd tier corners and allow Roseman to get his man.

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff (left) wanted a cornerback. He could have selected Clemson corner A.J. Terrell at 21, picked up and extra pick or two, and the Eagles could have Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb right now. (photo from https://www.bostonglobe.com/)

But a deal couldn’t be made. The Falcons stood pat, rebuffing Roseman’s inquiry, and selected Clemson’s A.J. Terrell. Some, myself included, felt that was a bit of an overdraft, and whatever Roseman offered would’ve been a fair price and they still could’ve drafted their corner of choice at 21. That left Lamb in the crosshairs of Philly’s hated rival — the Dallas Cowboys.

After losing slot receiver Randall Cobb and TE Jason Witten in free agency, receiver was a need, but much lower on the list after losing star corner Byron Jones and DE Robert Quinn in free agency. LSU DE K’Lavon Chaisson would have been the pick any other time. But Lamb is just that good. The Cowboys took Lamb at 17 and the Eagles dream died.

Sometimes, though, Plan B turns out to be better than Plan A.

Fast forward to pick 21, the Eagles did in fact take a WR. Some were surprised when TCU’s Jalen Reagor’s name was announced, but they shouldn’t be. Reagor is an absolute beast and a perfect fit for the Eagles offense. Not only that, Reagor solidified himself as a bonafide top 6 pick in Dynasty rookie drafts and should absolutely be considered a top 40 WR in redraft leagues.

Reagor checks a ton of boxes for an impact receiver at the NFL level. He clocked a 4.47 40 at the NFL Combine but when you watch him on tape, it’s clear he runs faster than that. Honestly, that’s what I want to see from a prospect, not someone who runs a 4.4 40 and doesn’t look near as fast on tape (and yes, that’s a clear slight at the player picked directly after Reagor). When you watch Reagor’s first step when the ball is hiked, it’s so fast that he’s already four steps behind the defender before their hips are turned. You see his 1.52 second 10-yard split (in the 93rd percentile) in action right out of the gate.

There are plenty talent scouts that felt TCU WR Jalen Reagor didn’t belong in the 1st round. Eagles GM Howie Roseman clearly wasn’t one of them. Reagor should have a very productive rookie season for Philadelphia. (Photo from theeagleswire.usatoday.com)

Reagor is 5’11”, not overly tall for an outside receiver, but there are plenty of number ones that are a similar height — Odell Beckham Jr. (5’11”), D.J. Moore (5’11”), Stefon Diggs (6’0″), and Emmanuel Sanders (5’11”) all fit the bill. An advantage for Reagor? How about a 42″ vertical? That’s in the 98th percentile of athletic testing. He consistently out-jumped defenders in contested catch situations, even though he logged only eight total contested catches in 2019. A stat to help explain why — Reagor saw the fourth lowest percentage of catchable passes in 2019 at 30.7%, according to Pro Football Focus. You can get up to get the ball, but if they’re inaccurate, there’s only so much you can do.

We know Reagor can flat out fly. Even a 4.47 40 time is nothing to scoff at. We also know that Eagles QB Carson Wentz loves to throw it deep. When the Eagles re-acquired WR DeSean Jackson prior to the start of the 2019 season, we all salivated about Wentz’s ability to hit Jackson deep consistently. One of my bold predictions heading into 2020 was that DJax would be the Eagles leading receiver in 2019 strictly because of this sentiment. And Week 1 made me feel really good about that thought. Jackson had 9 targets, leading to 8 catches for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. Two of those targets travelled more than 20 yards downfield and Jackson caught both for 104 yards and both touchdowns.

During Wentz’s breakout 2017 seasons when he likely would’ve won his first MVP award before tearing his ACL, Wentz was 5th in the league in deep pass percentage at 14.8%. He’s had 45 and 74 deep attempts the last two years, respectively, with less quality at the receiver position and no real deep threat — Jackson played in only three games in 2019. We know about all of the underneath work in the Eagles offense. Since Wentz became the starting quarterback in 2016, Zach Ertz is 2nd in the league among TEs in both targets (507) and receptions (356) and averages only 10.45 yards per reception. Eagles RBs accounted for 17.94% of the team’s targets in 2019. Rookie Miles Sanders led the group with 509 yards (10.2 YPC). These guys control the middle of the field, allowing the likes of DJax (pending health, which is no guarantee at his current age of 34) and Reagor to take the top off of defenses.

Another plus to Reagor’s game is his ability to move around an offense. He lined up in the slot on 14.6% of his WR snaps in 2019. He’s also been used on jet sweeps throughout his time at TCU, accumulating 324 rushing yards and 3 TDs — good for a 9.3 YPC average. If you want to try and visualize how HC Doug Pederson could scheme to get Reagor the football, look at how Kyle Shanahan used WR Deebo Samuel in 2019 or how Andy Reid has used WR Tyreek Hill the last few years. Offenses these days win with versatility and Reagor has it.

Philadelphia was always a top landing spot for a wide receiver. The fact that Reagor, my rookie WR4 heading into the draft, landed there means he’s likely to be a top six pick in Dynasty rookie drafts this summer. With a limited offseason, it’s not unfair to think Reagor won’t top 700 yards as a rookie. We’ve seen there be a learning curve with rookie wide receivers, just like we’ve seen some break out in big ways (last year’s rookie receivers are a prime example of the stars aligning). Reagor has been relatively healthy throughout his college career having played in 39 of 39 games. Incumbents DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery have been the opposite — 29 and 39 games played, respectively. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to think that Reagor could see 80 targets for 50 receptions, 750 yards, and 5 TDs in his rookie campaign. In PPR formats, that’d put him at WR44 going off last year’s finishes. That’s his floor. If injuries continue to derail the Eagles older receivers, Reagor could be in for top 25 campaign in 2020. And if that happens, the J├Ąger Reagor Bombs are on me!