The Philadelphia Eagles sat tight in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and selected Jalen Reagor at No. 21 overall. In order to learn more about him I reached out to SB Nation’s TCU blog: Frogs O’ War. Horned Frogs writers Melissa Triebwasser and Russell Hodges were kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you recap his college career?
TRIEBWASSER: Jalen was one of those talents that TCU fans will look back on and wonder what could have been. When he chose the Horned Frogs over Oklahoma, it didn’t seem possible that TCU would win double-digit games just once in his tenure and finish his career in purple not even in a bowl game. Unfortunately, Reagor’s three years in Fort Worth saw him play with seven different quarterbacks — and Kenny Hill in 2017 was the best of the bunch by a mile. Jalen’s three years in purple were best characterized by extraordinary moments followed by extraordinary inconsistency; the wide receiver would make an impossible catch and then drop something easy. But man, when he is on and locked in, he is special. He is capable of taking over a game as a play-maker — when you watch his film from the Baylor game in 2018 he jumps off the page. That day in Waco, TCU lost their starting quarterback early and were left with a fourth-string, fifth year senior who had attempted something like three passes in his career. And they had to win their final two games to make it to a bowl — which ended up being the Cheez-It Bowl, aka the Greatest Bowl Game in History. Reagor lined up at wide receiver, running back, quarterback, and returned punts. I am pretty sure he would have taken snaps at corner and dominated there, too, if needed. He put the team on his back and carried the Frogs to a win. His freshman year, he made one of the most ridiuclous hail mary catches of all time (in a huge moment), leaping over the entire SMU defense in the end zone as time wound down in the half. This past year was hard on him and hard on everyone in the program; he looked frustrated and disinterested at times as the Frogs rolled out Alex Delton (who was very bad) and Max Duggan (who was very much a freshman) behind center. It was pretty obvious that Reag was going pro no matter what happened in 2019, and at times that showed in his play. But he still flashed greatness, played through pain (he bounced up off the mat time and time again in a really physical game at Oklahoma State), and didn’t do anything to hurt his team on the field or in the locker room. Even as his dad [former Eagles defensive lineman Montae Reagor] constantly complained about the offense and the play-calling on Twitter (and he wasn’t wrong, to be honest), Reagor kept quiet — though he did occasionally like or RT something that talked about what was wrong with the TCU offense. The TL;DR: Jalen Reagor is a special, unique talent that can play multiple positions on the field and won’t be a problem off of it. He can make an immediate impact in the pros, especially on special teams.
HODGES: Reagor arrived as one of TCU’s highest rated recruits and became a starter at the beginning of his freshman season. He didn’t miss a single game and managed to total over 2,000 receiving yards despite catching passes from five different quarterbacks (Kenny Hill, Shawn Robinson, Michael Collins, Max Duggan and Alex Delton). Reagor was TCU’s most explosive offensive weapon throughout his three-year career with the Horned Frogs.
2) What are his strengths?
TRIEBWASSER: Reagor is a freak athlete; though not the biggest guy on the field, he has incredible hops and can out leap defenders. He’s strong as hell and can out-muscle defenders for contested catches, and can take a hit which makes him a valuable asset in the run game and the return game. He’s also so dang fast. I know his combine time was disappointing, but his hand-timed 40 [4.22 seconds] was more in line with what you see from him in pads. He’s a good kid, he works hard, you’re never going to see attitude from him on the field and he won’t be a problem in the locker room. He’s cocky — he is a wide receiver after all — but he’s coachable and he grew up a ton at TCU. He was a real leader in 2018 and a big reason why players continued to buy in even as an insane amount of injuries mounted.
HODGES: Reagor has elite game speed on tape and he checks all the boxes physically. He performed very well in nearly all of the physical drills at the combine (where he ran a 4.47 at 206 pounds I believe) before running a much faster unofficial 40 time during his virtual workout, where he was about 10 pounds lighter. He’s a versatile route runner who was used in a myriad of ways at TCU. He can line up outside or in the slot, he can take the ball on a sweep/reverse and he can return punts on special teams.
3) What are his weaknesses?
TRIEBWASSER: Jalen had some really surprising drops in college — sometimes due to a lack of technique, others to a lack of focus. His hands should be elite, but that wasn’t always the case at TCU. He can work on his route-running as well, sharpen up his cuts. I don’t think either of these will be a big obstacle for him at the next level though, and expect him to tighten up both areas.
HODGES: Reagor struggled with dropped passes and muffed punts this past season. Although his QBs often struggled to put the ball in the right places, he had some very noticeable misses during the season. I don’t think Reagor will have any issues in the NFL when it comes to his physical abilities, but if he continues to be plagued by drops and miscues on special teams, it could spell trouble for him.
4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?
TRIEBWASSER: I think we have always felt that he was a first-round talent, but he didn’t jump off the board at the combine the way I expected, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if he fell to early in the second round. That being said, I think he went in about the right spot and definitely in a good situation for him.
HODGES: I had heard multiple times in the days and weeks leading up to the draft that Philadelphia had been scouting Reagor pretty heavily. I figured if any team took him in the first round, it’d be the Eagles, so I’m not surprised to see him get taken 21st overall. The lack of production in college made people raise eyebrows, especially considering LSU’s Justin Jefferson went immediately after Reagor, but Reagor has all the physical makings of a first-round prospect.
5) It’s often said that Reagor was negatively impacted by really bad QB play at TCU. To what extent is that true?
TRIEBWASSER: I touched on this earlier, but sure — the quarterback play the last two seasons has been rough. Not only have the quarterbacks not played well, there have been SO MANY of them. Last year was a total wash, this year, Max Duggan started to find his groove late, but wasn’t consistent enough as a true freshman to capitalize on Reagor’s talents; frankly it seemed he had a better report with the younger guys, the ones he had been working with in spring ball and all last summer. So, while it wasn’t “the worst QB in college football history” as some would have you believe, it’s absolutely fair to give him a pass on his less than stellar stats the last two seasons.
HODGES: I think Reagor’s lack of production this past season was due to multiple issues, mainly inconsistent quarterback play from Duggan and Delton. However, TCU had two very good running backs (Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson) and a lot of experience up front (Anthony McKinney, Cordel Iwuagwu and Lucas Niang), so the running game was always going to be dominant in comparison to the passing game. Additionally, TCU doesn’t use tight ends much in the passing game, and putting Reagor aside, TCU didn’t have much wide receiving talent this past season. As a result, TCU’s offense became very one-dimensional throughout the season, and Sonny Cumbie’s questionable play calling abilities didn’t help much either. Ultimately, the poor quarterback play didn’t help Reagor much, but the offense as a whole was broken for most of the season, which could be why former co-OC Doug Meacham is coming back.
6) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
TRIEBWASSER: I think he will be an immediate impact piece on special teams, where is a very dangerous punt returner. I also expect that he will have a successful rookie campaign at wide out, especially considering how thin the depth chart is at the position in Philly. Within a couple of seasons, he will be an impact player — a guy that can be your second leading receiver and get in the end zone 6-8 times a season.
HODGES: I can see Reagor having a very successful NFL career if he improves his hands and can make contested and tough receptions. He has good character and he checks all of the boxes physically. I can see the Eagles using him in the slot more often with Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson still around, but considering both of those players are older and have struggled with injuries in recent seasons, Reagor could emerged as a No. 1 receiver in the next few years.
7) Anything to know about him off the field?
TRIEBWASSER: You better hope you don’t have play-calling or quarterback issues, otherwise you will get to know his dad very well :)
HODGES: All I know is that he’s the son of former Texas Tech football player and NFL veteran Montae Reagor. B/R also did an article on how he continues to train locally in Fort Worth as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, doing as many as 800 push-ups per day.
BLG’s take: I’m excited about Reagor’s potential. There’s a chance that he was truly undervalued as a prospect due to his poor situation at TCU. Hopefully the drops don’t continue to be a major problem in the NFL. It’ll be interesting to see where the Eagles line him up on offense. Is he going to be in the slot?
Spider graph via Mockdraftable: