One 1st-Round Pick Prospering, Another Still Finding His Way
Under normal circumstances, an abbreviated integration period would curb the progression of rookies.
But Eagles rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor has effectively debunked that notion, in a matter of weeks.
While the names of several pass catchers were linked to the Eagles throughout the pre-draft process, the team landed Reagor. His unique blend of versatility, long speed, and big-play potential was an obvious match for an offense in dire need of another young playmaker.
The disastrous 2019 rookie season from second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside might have cast skepticism on Reagor's ability to flourish from the start, but Reagor is showing signs of a player who's primed for early success. His training camp showcases and inherent intangibles have prompted some effusive praise from quarterback Carson Wentz.
“Every receiver is different and has a different way of running routes, and he [Wentz] embraces that about me,” Reagor said recently. “He tells me, ‘You’re this type of guy, I see it.’ We watch a lot of clips with our routes and stuff like that and he is just like, ‘You’re explosive like Julio [Jones]. You can run fast. You can jump high.’ So he compares me to a lot of receivers." Wait, did Wentz really compare him to Jones, the Falcons' All-Pro wideout?
“He’s just saying certain routes, certain people can’t run," Reagor added. "He’s like, ‘You can run those routes.’ He’s putting it up there. He’s putting it on me. He’s putting it all on me so I’m willing to get better every day and work on it.”
Reagor, who has spent time cross-training at the ‘X’ and ‘Z’ positions, is billed as a quick study. His football intellect, versatility and explosiveness will be primary elements in morphing the Eagles’ offense in 2020.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound target has mainly worked with the first-team offense, while moonlighting as a punt returner. Along with being well-versed in multiple positions, Reagor has consistently flashed that renowned big-play potential and appears to be on the fast track to NFL relevance, with help from first-year wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead’s tutelage.
With the season-opener rapidly approaching, the team hopes to exhibit the same unwavering confidence in last year’s first-round pick, Andre Dillard.
Selected with the No. 22 overall pick to be the eventual successor to Jason Peters, Dillard struggled in limited game action as a rookie. Appearing in all 16 games (4 starts), Dillard played 337 offensive snaps, accounting for nearly 29 percent of the total.
Known more for his athleticism and pass protection than as a true road-grader, Dillard reportedly added 20 pounds to his frame during the offseason, bringing his weight to 335 pounds, added weight that should help improve his play-strength and anchor, both of which weren't NFL-caliber last season.
Although the team re-signed Jason Peters to play right guard, the team emphasized that Dillard won’t have to look over his shoulder. While he previously displayed a largely finesse overall game last summer, Dillard has held his own at the point of attack in 1-on-1 drills this year and has looked sharp in pass protection this time around, so say his coaches, even if his showings in team drills can still be improved upon. Whatever momentum Dillard had gained reached a screeching halt on Sunday when he headed for the medical tent because of an undisclosed injury before disappearing into the locker room.
Jordan Mailata replaced Dillard in his absence as the offensive line underwhelmed.
“I’m not concerned,” Pederson said in a Zoom call with reporters on Sunday. “It’s just the way – it’s the ebb and flow of training camp. It’s the way things go this time of the year, and our offensive line has been doing a great job. I’m not concerned with what happened there during practice or at the end of practice.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a contributor to InsideTheBirds.com. He also writes for Pro Football Network. Listen to the latest "Inside The Birds" podcast here: