Last night saw a shocking 30-minute period during the NFL Draft. Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, who many regarded as the top receiver in this class, slipped all the way to pick 17. The end was in sight. Howie Roseman surely had enough ammunition to trade up to acquire his services, but instead he stood pat and watched him fall into the hands of Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. This resulted in the drafting of Jalen Reagor…but was it the right decision?
You wanted speed…
If there’s one word that defines this offseason, it’s speed. The Eagles were left longing for a sense of speed after a season where they were deprived of it. Jalen Reagor is fast. Like, really fast. A disappointing combine left some question marks over his pace, but his virtual pro-day eradicated them.
Reagor ran a 4.22 during that workout and even if the number can’t be 100% trusted, it’s a good indicator that there’s plenty of juice in the tank.
This is also verified by the fact that four of Reagor’s five touchdowns came on 20 plus yards receptions. The receiver caught eight of those targets for 294 yards as well. Is that not the kind of receiver that fans wanted for the Eagles? Someone who can separate early and haul in those deep bombs?
Carson Wentz finished ninth in the NFL in deep passing accuracy (51.92 completion percentage) despite not having a legitimate vertical threat majority of the 2019 season. Add 2+2 together and it’s very difficult to come away with anything other than the number 4.
Talking of which, Reagor was my fourth-ranked receiver when it came to Eagles-related traits, out of 20. He beat out Mims and Jefferson as a well-rounded prospect who thrived in just about every facet that TCU asked him to. This brings us to my next point.
The Eagles need to replace DeSean Jackson eventually, that’s not up for debate. Jackson may have had 2019 ripped away from him, but in a year where Darren Sproles is no longer an active player and Corey Clement’s punt-return woes have been banished, the Eagles need an explosive returner.
TCU used Reagor on punt returns and even on sweeps and swings. He had 35 carries for 324 yards and two touchdowns during his time with TCU, along with 23 punt returns and 13 kick returns.
In fact, he was one of two players in the FBS with two punt returns for touchdowns, ranking second in the nation with a 20.8 punt return average, breaking the previous TCU season record of 20.4 in 1969.
“I’m good anywhere you want to put me simply because I may not be the tallest, but I’m very strong on the outside.” Reagor told reporters after he was drafted. “I play like I’m 6-4 but I’m 5-11. Like I said, I just feel like when you look at me, I’m not an inside or an outside receiver; I’m a receiver. So I mean, I can do whatever they need me to do.”
Outside of the 5’11 receiver’s ability to line-up both inside and out, his pure acceleration on punt-returns make him a valuable weapon on a special teams unit that prides itself on being among the best in the NFL.
The truth of the matter here is that while Justin Jefferson may have been the more ‘aesthetically appealing pick’ because he played against SEC competition and had better numbers from a better QB, his instant floor is playing the slot. He of course has the potential to one day move outside, but the Eagles have to be wary here.
The real depth of this class lies in slot wideouts. Devin Duvernay, Quartney Davis, and James Proche, among others, are buried in the stack of shorter, zippier wideouts who can both create and thrive in open space over the middle. Taking Justin Jefferson would have severely hampered the team’s ability to draft a second receiver without adding some significant congestion to the position.
You can even point to a name like Penn State’s K.J Hamler as an option here, who would make for a truly lethal running-mate. It’s also worth noting that DeSean Jackson can play inside too (43% of his snaps in 2018), and this pick gives the Eagles optionality to move guys around, as Pederson loves to do.
Not being scared off
At the end of the day, had it not been for CeeDee Lamb being dangled over the salivating mouth of Howie Roseman before being plucked away by a Vulture, this pick would be regarded as smart. Reagor will now forever be tied to a pick designed to negate the addition of Darius Slay.
The immediate reaction by many would have been to panic. You trade away picks for this lockdown corner who becomes the highest-paid in the league, only for your main divisional competition to draft the best receiver in the class, almost making his presence redundant. Drafting a name like Fulton at 21 made so much sense in a game of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’, but Howie was smarter than that.
He stuck to his guns and drafted the player who fits the offense best. If the Cowboys are bringing the guns, the Eagles are now bringing an arsenal.
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports