Ask ITB: Who Will Be Fourth Receiver Off the Board?
From Customer Reviews on Apple (Darius1224): “Big fan of your guys reporting and hope the website and podcast grows into a big success. You guys are my go to Eagles news.
I have a question though with Jalen Reagor preforming so well at his pro day and running in the 4.2’s, did that solidify his as the 4th best and 4th wide receiver to come off the board behind (Jerry) Jeudy, (CeeDee) Lamb and (Henry) Ruggs. Also is Reagor the best fit for the Eagles behind those guys.”
Adam Caplan: Well, the pro day was not run by NFL teams, though, as I understand it; a former NFL exec ran it last week for Reagor, which was a smart move.
Reagor, from gathering more information lately from people I trust, could go off the board before the end of the first round, but Justin Jefferson and potentially Tee Higgins as well. And Jefferson probably is the one guy WR coaches seem to trust to be ready to go early on.
Higgins moves well for his size and wins down field almost all of the time according to coaches I’ve spoken to, but he struggles a bit against press coverage.
I’m gathering more information on Reagor on how he deals with press coverage and how he handles zone. That ultimately will decide how high he goes in the first. My sense is somewhere between 20-31, but I’m still working to nail down his range on him, Higgins, and others. We’ll update that next week on our show.
What I do know is the Eagles have done a lot of work on him (Zoom meetings, etc), but how much they like him is the question. They’ve done a lot of work on WRs, CBs, LBs and other positions of need.
From Customer Reviews on Apple (Alex Balll): “Great insight on the birds. How skeptical of the defense are you guys going into the year? Don’t love the line backing core.”
Adam Caplan: As I’ve mentioned on our show over the past few months, the defense will change a bit. They’ll still run a 4-3 with a 9-front, but you’ll see more strategy take place pre and post-snap from DC Jim Schwartz due to the additions and changes to the coaching staff.
The pre and post-snap phase of their defense got heavily criticized from other teams I spoke last season season. It became very predictable, but with the increase in talent in free agency and expected better coaching, the defense will be better (see pass rush inside as a big reason).
The issue, and you mentioned it, is the LB group. That’s obvious and I do expect them to draft one (as high as the 2nd round).
From Customer Reviews on Apple (RYANHERB): “Great podcast, and great review of receivers in the draft! Does it seem like the Eagles are building a defense that can finally beat Seattle? Seems like that might be one of their goals!”
Adam Caplan: Well, their defense wasn’t really the problem in both games last season. The issue was only scoring a total of 18 points on offense.
But I know what you mean.
Here’s why you should be excited:
No team will have a better DT rotation than the Eagles. In speaking with defensive coaches from other teams, it’s very important to find DTs who can make the QB move off his spot (see Fletcher Cox).
Now the Eagles have 4 DTs: Cox, Malik Jackson (assuming he’s back to where he was before the injury), Javon Hargrave, Hassan Ridgeway, who all can push the pocket. That’s very important as QBs want to step up and throw.
And another reason: With the addition of CB Darius Slay and likely another CB (from this draft potentially in round one) who will compete on the outside for future seasons, they’ll be better off at that position than they have in years (at least on paper). There are still some questions at safety, but the defense has way more talent than it did a year ago and they’re not done. LB is another issue, however.
Question from InsideTheBirds.com: “I do not want to jinx us, but I am concerned about RB. If Miles (Sanders) goes down, what are we going to do? I fear this could be the (WR) DeSean (Jackson) position for this year.
Do you think the Eagles will draft a RB in say the 4th round with one of their 3 picks to give us some insurance or get a big back for short yardage?”
Adam Caplan: Oh, there’s no doubt that RB behind Sanders is a need. They’ll address it either on the 3rd day of the draft or going forward in free agency.
Boston Scott has been a nice find as their #3 RB, but they need a #2 with some size.
Question from InsideTheBirds.com: “Should Eagles look into a possible (49ers RB) Matt Breida trade? I read he’s on the outs in SF?”
Adam Caplan: Breida has been a nice find for the 49ers, but he has an injury history (missed 5 games last 2 seasons and has been limited in others).
Breida is known in personnel circles as a “change up” RB, not power RB, which is what the Eagles need behind Miles Sanders.
Breida’s 1-year RFA salary ($3.259m) is a bit high for a backup RB.
Question from InsideTheBirds.com: “Gents, love the podcast, you guys do great work. Any other trade candidates at WR besides (Carolina Panthers) Curtis Samuel? My mind is on (Tennessee Titans) Corey Davis. What do you think he would cost?”
Adam Caplan: Should the Panthers draft Denzel Mims, who played for Panthers HC Matt Rhule at Baylor, then Samuel could be moved. The Panthers, to this point, have not had any interest in trading him, but also keep in mind he’s on the final year of his rookie deal. And recently signed WR Robby Anderson, who signed a 2-year deal, has a 1-year structure on his deal (all they would get hit with is $4m in signing bonus proration).
As for Davis, I asked a team that graded his tape last season and they said it was very clear that he excelled against zone coverage but struggled against man, which might help to explain his dip in productivity in addition to their commitment to running the ball a ton. I can’t see a team giving up more than a 5th-round pick for him. While he has a lot of talent (runs well, has good size), he has some flaws.
Question from InsideTheBirds.com: “Gents, we need a Dog at wide receiver. A Julio (Jones), D-(Andre) Hopkins type player. Justin Jefferson isn’t it. (Jalen) Reagor, (Denzel) Mims at that spot. No move up for it will cost to much. (K.J.) Hamler is a day 2 or 3 pick. There are gems to have later rounds.”
Adam Caplan: I get what you mean here.
You’re clearly looking for a WR who can dominate in a variety of ways including physically Jones and Hopkins do just about every game.
Reagor has the potential to do that at some level in the NFL due to his build and the way he plays, where Jefferson, who is very talented, isn’t as physically strong from talking to coaches. Yet, he projects to play mostly inside at the next level. The thing with Jefferson is he’s probably a little more game ready than some of this year’s WR group.
The question here is this: Do the Eagles want Jefferson, who is a clear upgrade in the slot, or Reagor, who upgrades them on the outside and gives them what they badly need for the future there? And Brandon Aiyuk is someone who interests the Eagles from talking to several sources. My understanding is they and several teams are not concerned about his recent muscle core surgery. He’s going to be ready to go by sometime in June.
There are teams that believe Jefferson can play inside or outside, but those teams have mentioned to me that his likely future is mostly in the slot.
We’ve received questions about the Eagles potentially drafting Jefferson and Hamler in the 2nd (he’s expected to go off the board there). That would be a really good combo for them. However, many teams see Hamler as primarily playing in the slot or being used as a “movement Z” to create space for him to get open.
Mims, as one WRs coach mentioned to me recently, could be the 3rd best WR from this class 3 years down the road. Mims has to mature physically (weighed just 207 at the combine), but he has a lot of tools which can’t be taught (long and fast). He needs to get stronger, but has a ton of upside for down the road.
Check out our interview with Mims from last week:
If the Eagles do draft Reagor, he would line up mostly on the outside, though I’m told some teams see him with the ability to line up inside occasionally.
Stay tuned here…
Listen to the latest Inside the Birds with Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan: