2020 Season Preview: Can Reagor Overcome Obstacles?
This is the fifth story of a lengthy series from now until the start of training camp by Geoff Mosher and Andrew DiCecco previewing the Eagles' 2020 season. Each weekday, Mosher and DiCecco will give their viewpoint on a specific topic. Today's category:
Most Impactful Rookie
Geoff's Choice: Jalen Reagor, wide receiver
There's been plenty of debate about whether Jalen Reagor really deserved to be picked 21st overall in this year's draft. Some scouts and personnel execs believed Reagor's speed and explosion warranted his draft spot. Some felt that the Texas Christian product's iffy hands and inconsistency made Reagor more of a second-rounder. None of that seems to matter now. Reagor's skill set and physical tools will take a back seat to his intellect and adaptability. With no spring camps, and the potential of what's likely to be an altered training camp, Reagor won't have time to shake off the cobwebs and slowly integrate into Doug Pederson's offense.
Without Alshon Jeffrey, who's likely to miss the first few weeks of the season – and maybe more – the Eagles desperately need a sure-handed complement to DeSean Jackson, who's never been a possession receiver.
They also need Reagor's playmaking ability and versatility given the offense's lack of explosion outside of Jackson and perhaps Marquise Goodwin, who's also not historically a high-volume receiver. The Eagles were one of the slowest offenses last year and over-reliant on their tight ends to move the chains, but Pederson's offense works best with explosive elements, so expect Pederson to find ways for Reagor to get the ball in space. Fortunately for Reagor, he has a reputation for being intelligent and perceptive, which should help him bridge the rookie gap in a season in which all rookies will start behind the curve. Jackson caught 62 passes as an Eagles rookie in 2008. Jeremy Maclin caught 56 passes as an Eagles rookie in 2009. It's reasonable to expect Reagor to be somewhere in that receptions neighborhood and anywhere from 700 to 900 offensive yards. Anything more would be remarkable. But it's doable. And the Eagles need every ounce of production they can get from him.
Andrew's Choice: Jalen Reagor, wide receiver
As we inch closer to the start of training camp, the mere thought of any rookie having a profound impact in 2020 feels like self-deception. While navigating unfamiliar territory due to the ongoing global pandemic, teams were forced to scrap OTAs and minicamp, which are valuable learning opportunities for young players.
Instead, the league-wide shutdown was remedied by implementing virtual offseason programs. Eagles coaches would follow up with each player to monitor their progress throughout the program. Still, the lack of practice time is undoubtedly detrimental, specifically for rookies and second-year players.
While Jalen Hurts should eventually see the field for a few plays a game to add another wrinkle to the offense, it likely won't be until later in the season. Third-round linebacker Davion Taylor brings tantalizing athleticism but is incredibly raw and needs time to develop. K’Von Wallace enters training camp slotted behind Jalen Mills and Will Parks at strong safety, and it would take a string of misfortune for Jack Driscoll to become a factor in 2020. The rest are squarely on the roster bubble, leaving first-rounder Jalen Reagor as the only logical choice.
Alshon Jeffery is destined to begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, seemingly paving Reagor’s path to prominence. However, last month, Doug Pederson said that his intention was for Reagor to learn the ‘Z’ position behind DeSean Jackson – initially. In an interview with InsideTheBirds.com before the NFL Draft, Reagor’s former offensive coordinator at TCU, Sonny Cumbie, considered Reagor to be a quick learner. If he proves to be a quick study and establishes a rapport with Carson Wentz, Reagor could feasibly seize a starting role by the end of the summer.
Reagor is a unique player who won’t need a requisite number of targets to make an impact. His burst and short-area quickness should earn him opportunities as a ball carrier on jet sweeps, and the quick-screen game would highlight Reagor’s ability to manufacture yards after the catch.
The TCU standout brings versatility and a fearless mentality to an oft-maligned receiving corps. In an earlier season preview, I projected Reagor to reel in 55 receptions for 750 yards and five touchdowns. Given the recent developments, I now view those numbers as the best-case scenario. But make no mistake, Reagor will outperform his rookie counterparts and become an essential piece on offense. Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the Inside the Birds podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com. Andrew DiCecco (adicecconfl) is a contributor to InsideTheBirds.com.
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