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Eagles All-22 Film Review: Looking at what Zach Pascal brings to the table

Deep dive on Philadelphia’s new wide receiver.

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

So... I guess we are doing a Zach Pascal film room! Move aside Tyreek Hill, this is the big one we all care about. I’ll be honest, this was not my first choice of film room but the Eagles haven’t signed anyone else yet and people voted for it on twitter so, let’s do it!

If you missed last week’s on Reddick, you can find it here. Just after I dropped it news came out that Fletcher Cox had been released so if you missed it, please go and check it out.

This one probably will not be as detailed but I will still try to fully understand if Pascal will actually bring anything to this Eagles offense (in addition to not being called Jalen Reagor or JJAW).

Stats

All stats per PFF and only includes players with a minimum of 20% snaps.

- Last 2 years, 69.5% in the slot.

- PFF grade this year of 52.7 (94th out of 94). 62.9 in 2020. 73.7 in 2019.

More advanced stats

- 10.1 yards per reception, ranks 80/94.

- 14.2 yards per reception in 2020.

- 56% targets caught, ranks 87/94.

- 61.8% targets caught in 2020.

- 3.1 YAC per reception, ranks 77/94.

- 5.2 YAC per reception in 2020.

- 0.78 Yards per route run, ranks 93/94 (thank you Jalen Reagor!)

- 1.3 Yards per route run in 2020.

- 7.5% drop rate, ranks 61/94.

- 9.6% drop rate (yikes) in 2020.

- 21.4% contested catch rate, ranks 90/94.

- 41% contested catch rate in 2020.

Strengths

+ Has legitimate starting wide receiver film in both 2019 and 2020.

+ Really excels in the Red Zone. Runs an excellent skinny post route and has good size and body control to box out defenders and make tough catches in the middle of the field. He is really good at this.

+ Can defeat press coverage in the Red Zone using his size and length.

+ Can use his size to win in the Red Zone on corner routes too.

+ Is quite versatile and was used on screens as well as shovel passes with the Colts.

+ He has a good understanding of the position and can find soft spots in zone coverage.

+ Is a tough, physical competitor who is a willing blocker in the run game too.

+ Seems to have a nose for the end zone, I saw a few examples of TDs where he reaches out over the line.

Weaknesses

- Not explosive and will not provide an offense with a vertical element.

- Doesn’t have the ability to separate from close man coverage, especially on the outside.

- A lot of his production comes on schemed open throws, not beating man coverage.

- Won’t get you much YAC, doesn’t make many people miss with the ball in his hands.

- 2021 tape wasn’t very good. Some blame must go on the QB but he also just didn’t play very well and made too many errors.

Overall

Zach Pascal is an average starting wide receiver who will ideally play the role of a WR3/4. He has good size, toughness and is excellent in the Red Zone. He uses his body control to excel on post routes and has a knack for making touch catches at the back of the end zone. Despite this, he is below average in between the 20’s and he doesn’t scare you as a defense due to his lack of explosiveness, inability to separate from man coverage and his lack of yards after the catch. Pascal’s also flashed more in 2019/20 and it is difficult to determine if this is simply down to the quarterback he played with or a decline in talent.

The Future

I actually liked Pascal more than I thought I would after looking at his PFF grade from this year. I think he is clearly an upgrade over Reagor and JJAW and I also think he sort of fits both roles. He can do some of the Reagor stuff in motion from the slot but he can also play the JJAW role in the offense by using his size and strength to box out cornerbacks in the Red Zone. The Eagles used Greg Ward as a sort of Red Zone specialist last year too and it didn’t really work... so I am hoping Pascal can take these snaps instead.

I think Pascal is a fine WR3/4 if he can return to 2019/20 form but the Eagles still lack talent at the receiving position. Especially as nearly all of their current receivers are better suited to the slot, which is where Pascal is better suited too.

My one big concern is whether his skill set matches up to what Jalen Hurts is good at. We know Hurts has an issue throwing over the middle of the field and this is exactly where Pascal excels. It is no surprise he had a good year with Phillip Rivers as his quarterback as Rivers throws with anticipation against close man coverage, even if the receiver is not wide open. This is something we have not see with Hurts as a starting quarterback, yet.

Overall, I think the Pascal signing makes a lot of sense and whilst I would rather see him as more of a rotational option at WR3, if he does have to play meaningful snaps, I think he will be better than JJAW or Reagor have been for the Eagles. By the end of the year I think we will look back at this as a smart signing if he proves that last year was just a blip and not the start of a downwards trend.