Philadelphia Eagles

A move to the slot may add more weight to the shoulders of Jalen Reagor

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Last offseason, the Eagles selected the TCU wideout over Justin Jefferson, which was justified at the time because the organization viewed Jefferson purely as a slot receiver. Fast forward a year and it looks as though Jalen Reagor will receive the bulk of his snaps in the slot.

This is both confusing and frustrating because Jefferson was clearly considered a better prospect by the NFL. This speaks to the Philadelphia’s poor talent evaluation and their mismanagement of draft picks, which has plagued the City for years now.

Just one year after drafting Reagor, his move to the slot is welcomed as an opportunity to get the ball in the hands of a playmaker ,but Reagor was drafted to help stretch the field and take the top off defenses. He struggled throughout his rookie season because of sloppy route running and taking plays off. He was even fined for playing overweight by the team and has seemed apathetic at times.

Admittedly, Reagor’s move to the slot makes sense on paper because the Eagles do not have any proven talent at that position besides Greg Ward. My issue with his move to the slot is more philosophical, investing a first-round pick into a player that is supposed to contribute on the outside but needs to move to the slot to produce, is a serious error in talent evaluation. This is without addressing the fact that they passed on Jefferson due to perceived slot limitations, only to move their ‘better fit’ inside anyway.

The decision also clearly demonstrates what happens when organizations start forcing draft picks to fill specific needs instead of taking the best player left on their board. This lack of logic and organizational philosophy from the Eagles led to their disastrous 2020 campaign.

Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson is setting the league on fire from the outside, which is a painful realization for the Eagles, who have had to swiftly change their drafting philosophies.  Although it appears that Philadelphia had a strong 2021 draft class, that may not be enough for them to escape their past if Reagor cannot improve in his sophomore season.

Reagor has notably been very tapped into his public perception, with numerous social media-related incidents occurring over the course of his first year in Philadelphia. There was a growing concern that the slew of negativity had a big impact on his mental wellbeing, with the wideout eventually blacking out his instagram and changing his bio to Í’M TAKING EVERYTHING PERSONAL’.

Whether he likes it or not, the TCU product will forever be linked with Justin Jefferson. A move inside will do nothing but add fuel to the fire.

Ultimately, I think Jalen Reagor could be successful in the slot, but this is a perfect example of why the Eagles are not an elite franchise anymore. Moving your first-round draft pick to slot should be seen as an organizational failure, especially when the best slot receiver in college football, Justin Jefferson was still on the board during the 2020 draft. While I have mostly praised the Eagles’ moves this offseason and they have a chance to be a competitive team, mistakes like this may continue to hinder their progress.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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  • Dave says:

    Kyle….you make numerous comparisons to Justin Jefferson who is primarily a slot receiver. You also infer that the Eagles drafted Reagor to stretch the field. While that may have been the wrong reason to draft Reagor, that fact that they drafted him and played him out of position, seems like it will be remedied by the new coaching staff. There is constant reference to putting players in position to succeed, though Doug and the gang that couldn’t coach straight may not have seen it, obviously Sirianni and his staff realize that the square peg is in the round hole, so they are removing it and putting it in the square hole. It doesn’t mean that Reagor will never play outside, it means that his primary duty will be getting the ball over the middle to get him in open field to move the ball and therefore the chains.

    If we dwell on the Eagles past mistakes, we will be here all day. This new staff has realized that Reagor may very well be suited to the slot and thrive there. Smith will be an all around receiver, in the slot, outside and everywhere else. Fulgham will probably be the WR on the other side, though I think Ausbon may give him a run for his money. JJAW will need a summer to remember to make this roster. I don’t care what round he was drafted, the guy has simply not produced. If they decide to give him one more shot, it will surely be his last. IMHO, if a guy takes 3 years to finally produce, you surely drafted the wrong guy. JJAW is Mack Hollins and Riley Cooper rolled into one.

    Next year, the Eagles have 3 first round picks. You can be sure that they will draft another top receiver, guys like Garret Wilson and Chris Olave from Ohio State, Drake London from USC, a 6’5 guy with great YAC ability, or Traylon Burks for Arkansas at 6’3 and 232 lbs. That’s almost TE weight, but the guy plays like a WR, Doubs from Nevada, or my personal favorite Anais Smith from Texas A&M. This is what PFF said about him:

    The Texas A&M pass-catcher took 143 snaps from the backfield, 323 from the slot and only 60 out wide in 2020. He is pure dynamism, and the Aggies’ offense wanted to get the ball in his hands as easily as possible. He broke 21 tackles on 65 catches the past two seasons with an average depth of target a mere 9.4 yards downfield while adding 18 broken tackles on 55 rushing attempts over that span. At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, he may never fit the mold of an outside receiver, but he’s a playmaker who will be coveted nonetheless.

    Now that’s a guy we could use for sure. Christian McCaffrey has been nothing but incredibly successful in the NFL, and having a guy in that same mold, is something I’m sure Sirianni could find many ways to use.

    The gist of the article infers that the move to the slot, may add more weight to Reagor’s shoulders, but I disagree. I think the ability to do what he does best, which is make plays with the ball in his hands, will only be enhanced by playing in the slot, and that’s why they are putting him there

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