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NFL Draft Grades: Eagles earn mixed reviews for selecting Jalen Reagor in the first round

Looking at the pros and cons.

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NCAA Football: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles stayed put to select TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor with the No. 21 overall pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Now it’s time to see what the so-called “experts” are saying about the selection. Draft grades are hardly the ultimate determination of whether a pick is actually good or not but they’re still fun to examine.

First, let’s look at how Eagles fans reacted to the pick here at Bleeding Green Nation. With over 10,000 votes cast, 63% of Eagles fans gave the Reagor selection either a “B” or “C” grade.

As for me, I’m in the B-/C+ range for this pick.

Some things I do like about the Reagor pick:

  • The Eagles finally made an effort to get a weapon for Carson Wentz. There’s a chance they can be in Philly together for a long time.
  • Reagor is young. He only turned 21 in January. He has room to grow, both literally and figuratively.
  • Reagor is explosive. He ran an unofficial 4.22 at his virtual pro day. It’s clear from watching his highlights that he can stack defenders. Give him some daylight and he’s gone. The dude has juice. That quality could be a refreshing addition to the slow and plodding Eagles offense we’ve been forced to watch in recent seasons.
  • It’s fun to think about DeSean Jackson and Reagor lining up on the field together at the same time. They could be quite the dynamic duo. Their presence as the two wide receivers on the field in 12 personnel should theoretically open up space for Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert underneath.
  • Reagor might be an undervalued commodity. According to Pro Football Focus, only 30.7% of Reagor’s 2019 targets were charted as accurate. Only three FBS receivers had it worse in that regard. You can see that TCU’s quarterback left a number of big plays on the field where Reagor was running open and the pass just didn’t get to him.
  • Reagor isn’t just a deep threat. He plays bigger than his 5-11, 206 pound size when you see him use his elite leaping ability to high-point the ball for contested catches.
  • Reagor’s presence potentially gives the Eagles a weapon in the kick/punt return game that they haven’t had in some time. His addition could be a nice boost to special teams.
  • Reagor has “boom” potential. I think he could be a star.

Some things I don’t like about the Reagor pick:

  • Drops are an issue. From Bill Huber of PackerCentral: “In 2018, Reagor dropped six of 137 targeted passes, according to Sports Info Solutions. In 2019, he dropped nine of 92. Of our top 32 receivers, he ranked a woeful 30th in drop rate. Players who drop passes in college tend to drop them in the NFL, too.”
  • In addition to the drops, PFF’s draft guide also highlights ball tracking as an issue. Hm, why does that sound familiar?
  • Why didn’t Reagor test better at the Combine? He only ran 4.47 in Indy and his relative athletic score is only “okay”:
  • I don’t love all the excuse-making that’s being made for him. You can’t just explain away all of his faults on poor quarterback play. For example, as BGN’s Michael Kist highlighted: “Reagor didn’t seem committed to selling decoy routes, blocking, or squeezing every yard out of his opportunities after the catch. That last concern comes up in the analytics, as his YAC average dropped considerably over the last three years (7.8 > 5.9 > 3.8) and he only broke a total of 5 tackles in ‘19. You can explain some of that away by arguing poor placement, but too many times Reagor was in self-preservation mode and sought out the sidelines.”
  • Reagor feels like at least a slight reach at No. 21. Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, for example, had Reagor as his 59th overall prospect. The Eagles might’ve been able to get Reagor in a trade back. They couldn’t afford to take that risk, though, since the state of their wide receiver position is so dire.
  • The Eagles missed out on an opportunity to trade up for CeeDee Lamb and will now have to see him play for the Dallas Cowboys instead. That really sucks. Had the Eagles been able to sign Byron Jones and not given up picks for Darius Slay, they would’ve been in a better spot to trade up for Lamb. The cost to trade up also might’ve been more reasonable had the Eagles not entered the draft with such an obvious gaping hole at receiver, leaving themselves with little leverage in the bargaining process.
  • Justin Jefferson may not have been the perfect fit but he was at least a really smart bet to be a good NFL player. Reagor has more bust potential. Given how bad the Eagles have been when it comes to drafting and developing receiver talent, there was a case to be made they should’ve went with the surer thing as opposed to wildly swinging for the fences and striking out.

Now for more hot takes and draft grades from “experts” around the web.

Sports Illustrated (A-)

In critical pass situations last season, the Eagles often went to 12 personnel—two receivers and two tight ends. Yes, they have a pair of quality tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but this personnel decision said more about what they had—or didn’t have—at wide receiver. Reagor fills a gargantuan void. He was an explosive outside weapon at TCU who showed he can also move into the slot. While maybe not quite a pure burner through and through, he can still get vertical—a notable trait given that Carson Wentz is innately aggressive when it comes to pushing the ball downfield. Reagor also impressed scouts with some of his route running nuance—another notable trait given that Doug Pederson’s offense, when it’s functioning comfortably, is built on detailed route combinations.

The Ringer (B+)

The Eagles’ receiver corps badly needed an infusion of speed, and Philly got that with Reagor. The former Horned Frogs star is a twitched-up, highly athletic pass catcher with top-end deep speed and elusiveness in the open field. He is a compact muscle car of a pass catcher at 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds, but showed a knack for going up high and extending to make tough catches in traffic. He’s an electric return man, too, and averaged 20.8 yards per return on punts in 2019. Reagor’s production dropped in 2019 in TCU’s out-of-sync offense, and drops were an issue at times during his career―and while I had a couple of receivers ranked higher on my board, the team and scheme fit in Philly just makes too much sense. (B)

Reagor has a chance to be a good NFL receiver. He’s competitive and explosive. The Eagles needed help at the position, so that box is checked. But his career will be compared to another receiver that some considered the lock selection in this spot: Justin Jefferson, who went one pick later to the Vikings. Will Jefferson’s size and speed make him a Davante Adams-type playmaker, making the Eagles regret this pick? Can Reagor outrun guys after the catch as he did in college? How good are his hands, really? We shall see.

CBS Sports (B)

I love Reagor. He didn’t run a very good 40 at the combine. The night after that run his agent told me he put on some water weight. A couple days before they had him timed much faster. He’s got good speed.

DraftWire (B-)

There’s no denying the Eagles filled their biggest need on either side of the ball with this pick, but it’s surprising who they took, and more so who they passed on. LSU’s Justin Jefferson was the favorite here, and with good reason. Reagor is a bit undersized, and while still explosive and promising, isn’t the complete player Jefferson would have been for a team that needs a No. 1 WR of the future. Reagor is a solid prospect, but would have been a better value in the second round, whereas Jefferson was worthy of this spot. Still, they got a playmaker and filled their biggest need.

The Athletic (B, B-, C)

As for Jefferson, the Eagles kept harping on the fit. Roseman said there were “a lot of different flavors” at wide receiver and that “it was hard to find outside speed receivers,” which makes it seem like the Eagles were fixated on a type. And that raises my skepticism. If they believe Reagor is a better wide receiver than Jefferson, that’s their prerogative; the scouts and coaches are tasked with making those assessments. It’s not an outlandish position; Sheil rated Reagor ahead of Jefferson. But it better be because they think he’s a better player, or will become a better player, and not because they’re pushing for “fit,” which is the term Roseman used when asked why he chose Reagor over Jefferson. The idea of fit is worrisome because the Eagles need to prioritize upgrading the unit, however that comes: Add good players and find ways to maximize their ability; don’t focus on a player who can fill a certain spot in the offense, because so much changes during a season and over a player’s career. I wonder if part of this decision is a correction from the Eagles’ past emphasis on college production or not enough emphasis on speed.

SB Nation (C+)

Like the top offensive tackles, the way the wide receivers came off the board was going to be different from what most expected. That was evidenced in this pick over Brandon Aiyuk of Arizona State, Justin Jefferson of LSU, and Denzel Mims of Baylor. The Eagles obviously had to get a wide receiver with their first pick. You just have to wonder if they could have traded down and still gotten Reagor.

Bleacher Report (C-)

Reagor is the kind of screen-bomb-reverse threat who makes us drool this time of year but then has trouble taking the field as anything more than a situational weapon in the NFL because he cannot beat a jam, block or hold onto the ball in the middle of the field. He’s reminiscent of Mecole Hardman in many ways and would be best off in a Hardman-like situation as an extra gizmo in an already loaded offense. That makes him a very risky, very suspect selection for an Eagles team that needs sure things (several of them) at wide receiver.

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