The main focus of the NFL offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles is a simple one – get speed at the receiver position.
Yes, it’s true. Philadelphia needs to inject their receiving corps with an influx of speed to the group. But they also need a long-term playmaker at either the X or Z receiver spot.
Jalen Reagor fits that mold.
The former four-star recruit burst onto the scene quickly for Texas Christian University. Reagor won Big 12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2017 after posting 17.5 yards per reception to go along with eight touchdowns and 576 receiving yards off of 33 catches while only starting two games.
Reagor backed up his freshman year’s success after becoming a full-time starter for the Horned Frogs. The electrifying receiver put the college football world on notice as a playmaker after hauling in 72 receptions on 131 targets for 1,061 yards—14.7 yards per reception, and nine touchdowns. Reagor finished his sophomore season as a second-team All-Big 12 selection in 2018.
Production took a dip in 2019 for Reagor, unfortunately. The receiver caught 43 of his 88 targets for 611 yards, 14.2 yards per reception, and five touchdowns. The Horned Frogs quarterback play took a step back from the year prior after Shawn Robinson transferred, and Michael Collins was not playing.
Reagor’s 2019 production shouldn’t hinder the perception of his dynamic playmaking ability through the 2020 NFL Draft process. According to Pro Football Focus’ advanced ball location chart, Reagor only saw 30.7 percent of his targets as accurate last year, which was only better than three receivers in college football.
Playmaking ability instantly flashes off of Reagor’s film. The Horned Frogs used the receiver for 35 carries for 324 yards (9.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in his collegiate career. Reagor also returned 23 punts for 409 yards and two touchdowns as well as 13 kick returns for 315 yards.
Reagor recorded a faster speed than any play during the 2019 NFL season.
The Eagles could use Reagor all over the field. As a receiver, returner, and ball carrier, the Texas Christian University star could thrive in Philadelphia.
Reagor’s NFL Combine performance was a disappointment, to say at the least, but his agility testing isn’t what’s evident on the field. Reagor is incredibly talented in his ability to gain yards after the catch. The receiver proved to be a terror in the open field.
Philadelphia is desperate for a receiver that creates some separation, which is a specialty for Reagor. The Horned Frogs star does a fantastic job getting cornerbacks on double moves then quickly kicks it into his second gear out of his cuts.
Reagor’s quick feet provide such fluid cuts, and while there is still room for improvement for the receiver’s route-running, the traits are evident to prove how much of a weapon Reagor can be.
The Eagles offense hasn’t had a consistent vertical deep threat under Doug Pederson’s tenure. DeSean Jackson returning in 2020 helps in that department, but relying on a 33-year-old receiver coming off a lost season shouldn’t be the long-term fix for Philadelphia. Reagor can fill that void in the long-term and give Wentz his go-to vertical threat.
Four of Reagor’s five touchdowns came on 20 plus yards receptions. The receiver caught eight of those targets for 294 yards as well. The 20 plus yards receptions would often come Reagor’s way with Wentz at quarterback. Wentz was ninth in the NFL in deep passing accuracy (51.92 completion percentage), despite not having a legitimate vertical threat majority of the 2019 season. Reagor and Wentz’s pairing bodes well for the Eagles downfield passing success.
Contested catches are also an underrated addition to Reagor’s abilities. Pro Football Focus calculated a 42.1 percent contested catch rate in 2019 with a total of eight receptions. Don’t let the 5’11, 206 lbs frame fool you, Reagor has a knack for always reaching the catch point.
The biggest knock many put on Reagor — dropped passes. Pro Football Focus charted seven dropped passes in 2019, but only four in 2018 on over 40 more targets. Quarterback play is the easy route to blame, and some of Reagor’s drops were bad, but that shouldn’t be a routine case in the NFL.
Reagor already has NFL pedigree in his DNA as well. His father, Montae Reagor, played defensive tackle for nine seasons in the league (including one with the Eagles). Reagor knows what it takes to improve your craft and work hard at an NFL level after watching his father do so up close.
NBC Sports and Rotoworld NFL Draft Analyst, and my good friend, Thor Nystrom, offered up his evaluation of Reagor:
“More than just a burner, Reagor is a flashy sports car of an athlete, explosive and sleek. When the quarterback play is right, he wins all the over field. His movements are so sudden, and they come at such high speeds, that the feet of defensive backs sometimes get confused.”
Reagor’s dynamic skillset fits exactly in with the passing generation of football the league is going through currently. The Eagles need a receiver to demand the coverage’s attention.
Given Reagor’s film speed, footwork, and yards after the catch ability, he could prove to be the answer to Philadelphia’s long-lasting search for a playmaker at wide receiver. The soon-to-be-former Horned Frogs star has all the traits to become a superstar wideout.
Reagor should be on Howie Roseman’s mind when deciding the Eagles’ first-round pick.
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports