July 08, 2021
During the offseason, we'll be taking a look at a handful of players who are either new to the Philadelphia Eagles, or are already with the team but we perhaps don't know a lot about them just yet. Today we'll take a look at wide receiver Jalen Reagor.
Previous "Eagles player review" breakdowns
After being selected with the 21st overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Reagor had a disappointing rookie season, catching 31 passes for 396 yards (12.8 YPC), and 1 TD. His struggles as a rookie were amplified in a city that has lost patience for underperforming wide receivers, as well as the fact that the Eagles drafted Reagor over Justin Jefferson, a player who was widely rated higher than Reagor prior to the draft.
During training camp last year, Reagor's physical ability was rather obvious. He displayed the kind of speed and leaping ability that we haven't been accustomed to seeing in camp in recent years. We also saw glimpses of what Reagor can do in the Week 1 game against the Washington Football Team, when he hauled in a 55-yard bomb from Carson Wentz.
In Week 2, he tore a ligament in his thumb, but showed physical toughness by staying in that game, making 4 catches on 4 targets for 41 yards. That injury, however, cost him five games. Upon his return, the Eagles' season was already in something of a downward spiral, with a quarterback playing like crap, a scheme that stunk, and Reagor himself paying too much attention to fans lamenting the Eagles' decision to take him over Jefferson, who by that point in the season was already putting up huge numbers.
A look at Reagor's season snap counts:
|11 games, 11 starts
Before we get to analysis of his play, let's take a look at all of Reagor's targets during the 2020 season:
Did you watch all of that? It was less encouraging than I was anticipating. Let's go trait by trait, and look at what Reagor showed as a rookie:
Reagor ran a disappointing 4.47 at the NFL Combine, but his vertical jump and his broad jump were outstanding.
Later, Reagor shed 10 pounds, and subsequent 40 times that he ran at his virtual pro day should be viewed with a grain of salt, but certainly he ran faster there than he did in Indy.
Jalen Reagor ran unofficial 4.22 and 4.28 in 40 at his virtual pro day. 4.22 would’ve been fastest time at combine— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 24, 2020
He ran a 4.47 at the combine. He said he had gained some weight
This is tape his agent sent all teams
There's little question that he is an elite athlete.
Coming out of college, Reagor was thought of as a raw prospect in comparison to more polished route runners like Jerry Jeudy and Jefferson, to name two. We saw that play out his rookie season. While he got open deep a few times, otherwise his explosiveness did not translate to separation.
Beyond just running a deceptive corner route or a precise slant, at the core of route running, the receiver has to make the quarterback feel comfortable throwing his way, and I don't think he achieved that his rookie season at any point.
For example, on a bomb that fell incomplete against Washington in Week 1, Reagor might have had a touchdown, but he slowed up on his route at one point and the pass ended up being overthrown. If he busted it all the way through, maybe he makes that play? There were also times when the quarterback expected Reagor to be sitting down in a zone, but he continued to run his route as if it were man.
Just generally speaking, Reagor didn't exhibit much shake, and his routes were predictable.
If we're finding a positive, he did get open on a number of out routes, though that may have just been a product of defensive backs having respect for his deep speed.
There was an interesting stat that emerged from PFF claiming that Reagor made more contested catches than any first-round receiver from his talented draft class.
Career contested catches among 1st RD WRs:— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 12, 2020
1. Jalen Reagor - 27
2. Ceedee Lamb - 21
3. Justin Jefferson - 19
4. Jerry Jeudy - 13
5. Henry Ruggs III -12
6. Brandon Aiyuk - 3 pic.twitter.com/Ti8bTuo296
As a rookie, his contested catch ability was non-existent. He had more than his share of opportunities to make contested catches — there were no fewer than a half dozen examples in the targets video above — and he simply... didn't.
Reagor was unable to disguise when the ball was arriving, tipping off corners on when to punch the ball out, and I felt that his aggressiveness on those opportunities left something to be desired.
Reagor had a high drop rate in college, and while we only dinged him for one drop on the 2020 season, there were certainly other passes that could have been caught, but weren’t. He made the easy catches, but we haven't yet seen him make difficult ones.
The two most appealing traits Reagor exhibited coming out of TCU were his deep speed and his run after catch ability. His run after catch production was disappointing. To begin, he ran out of bounds a lot. In a league where so many defensive backs suck at tackling, you don't want to do their job for them, and in my opinion, Reagor left meat on the bone at times.
But also, he often didn't see the field well. Against the Rams on a quick screen, he had a clear lane to the outside (it also appeared the play design was to the outside), but ran into the teeth of the defense instead. Late in the season against Dallas with seconds left in the first half, the Eagles tried to set up a screen to Reagor instead of a Hail Mary like the Chiefs did successfully to Dallas with Tyreek Hill, and with a slew of blockers out in front, Reagor ran directly into the only defender in the immediate vicinity.
There was a play Week 16 against Dallas in which Hurts got picked off by Trevon Diggs with the game already essentially over, and Reagor didn't bother trying to tackle him. It wasn't the most egregious lack of effort I've ever seen, but it did catch my eye.
And then earlier in the season, once again against Dallas, Wentz extended a play, and Reagor had good positioning coming across the field relative to the two Cowboys defensive backs trailing him. On the all-22 look in the targets video above, watch the effort from Diggs vs. the effort given by Reagor. Diggs made the interception, despite Reagor being in much better position to make the play.
When you add up those two examples, plus the lack of aggression on contested catches and leaving meat on the bone with the ball already in his hands, I have effort concerns.
The early theme of Nick Sirianni's coaching tenure is competitiveness, so we'll see if Reagor takes to that.
The Eagles typically felt more comfortable putting the completely unthreatening Greg Ward back to return punts over Reagor, because they trusted him more to actually field punts. Reagor was a muff risk, but obviously, he provided the threat of a big play, like we saw against the Packers.
Reagor is too big a threat to be standing on the sidelines while Ward is getting four yard returns. The Eagles should have him fielding punts every day in training camp.
Reagor's rookie season was slowed by injuries, poor quarterback play, and a bad scheme, so excuses can be made for his lack of production, much in the same way excuses were made for his modest production at TCU. However, there were clearly a laundry list of concerns that emerged from Reagor's 2020 season that cannot be hand-waived away by excuses. He has the talent, but the bad outweighed the good.
Reagor is highly likely to start once again in 2021, playing a combination of the Z, and in the slot. The Eagles' record of drafting players in recent years has not been good, but perhaps equally concerning has been their lack of player development, the offensive line aside. Reagor is a player who has tools that can be developed. He and the Eagles need to figure out how to unlock them.
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