Eagles draft TCU’s Jalen Reagor, bet on big-play potential over LSU’s Justin Jefferson

The Philadelphia Eagles were bound to add a wide receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft, but by sitting at No. 21 overall, it initially appeared they might miss out on some of the top talent available, watching as the rival Dallas Cowboys swiped Oklahoma star CeeDee Lamb at No. 17 and then passing on LSU product Justin Jefferson while on the clock. Their ultimate selection of TCU’s Jalen Reagor, however, may prove to be the perfect fit for quarterback Carson Wentz.

According to CBS Sports draft analyst Chris Trapasso, the 21-year-old Reagor is “more explosive and is truly better in contested-catch situations” than Jefferson, who saw lots of “perfect dimes from Joe Burrow,” the draft’s first-overall pick from LSU. Most 2020 draft projections had Jefferson pegged as a surefire first-rounder and Reagor as closer to a second-rounder, but Trapasso sees the latter as a “more natural route runner” who can play on both the inside and outside, whereas Jefferson appeared to be mostly a slot receiver.

“While Jefferson did flash after the catch at LSU, Reagor has a more electric yards-after-catch skill set with better twitch, contact balance and breakaway speed,” Trapasso says. “He had the same percentage of TCU receiving yardage — 25 percent — as Jefferson did at LSU — just over 25 percent.”

That scouting report is echoed by ESPN Central Texas’ Stephen Simcox, who’s plugged into TCU and tells CBS Sports that Reagor “will show out with Carson Wentz” after working with subpar QBs in college.

“He’s fast, fast, fast,” Simcox says. “I have some concerns about Jalen’s frame at the next level, but he is a strong dude. I think he can do some work returning punts, too, if they don’t mind putting their first-round WR back there. The combine did not show how fast and explosive he is. He has some Tyreek Hill to him.”

If it sounds like Howie Roseman and the Eagles opted for upside more than steady, if unspectacular, results out wide, that’s exactly what Reagor’s selection screams. Wentz and Co. were bogged down for much of the 2018-2019 seasons because of aging or slower receivers, and even as the team gained steam down the stretch with younger reserves at WR, it was inevitable that more explosiveness would have to be added to the group. Reagor, the son of former Eagles defensive tackle Montae Reagor, brings just that, not to mention a commanding edge that’s been lacking in the team’s WR room in recent years.

Would Jefferson, who came off the board just one pick later, to the Minnesota Vikings, have been a good alternative? All signs say yes. But it’s not crazy to suggest the Eagles saw a bit of Jordan Matthews in the LSU product. Jefferson is more athletic than Matthews, sure, but some would argue he’s more of a solid all-around target machine than a potential big-play threat, and Philly has sorely lacked the latter.

Veteran speedster DeSean Jackson is on track to return in 2020 after missing most of last season with a core injury, but Reagor figures to play a prominent role in Philly — perhaps even an outside starting job — from Day One. Former Super Bowl standout Alshon Jeffery may or may not be back following rehabilitation from a Lisfranc injury and is at least a safe bet to depart following one more year in town. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, a 2019 second-rounder, and Greg Ward, a converted QB who manned the slot late in 2019 in relief of the since-departed Nelson Agholor, figure to round out the depth chart.

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