Players don’t pick the situations they get thrown into after the NFL draft. They also don’t choose to get injured or to have their snaps limited. So it’s dangerously unfair to label first-round pick Jalen Reagor a bust.
The Philadelphia Eagles selected him 21st overall for a reason, something Reagor himself pointed out. The franchise believes strongly in him being one of the top speed threats in the NFL for years and years to come.
“People just look at stats and whatever, whatever,” Reagor told reporters on Thursday, “but I was drafted day one — and there was a reason I was drafted day one.”
And the rookie wide receiver out of Texas Christian has heard all the criticism and vicious knocks, especially those obnoxious comparisons to Justin Jefferson — and uses them as fuel to be great. He isn’t worried about the future.
Jalen Reagor says both his injuries were "one in a million" and the mental part of overcoming them was harder than the physical part. He remains confident. "It don't rain forever." #Eagles #FlyEaglesFly
— Michael Greger (@mike_greger) December 31, 2020
“Some tough breaks, some bumps in the road, but that’s why I say I feel like it built my character,” Reagor said. “It’s different when you go through things, it builds you up. I feel like my lows have prepared me for my highs. I’m not worried, this is my first year. I’m not going to sit here and bash myself about one year, not even a complete year … I’m looking to play years, I’ll be just fine.”
The tough breaks started in August when Reagor suffered a torn labrum on the final day of training camp. He wasn’t supposed to be back for Week 1 but worked his tail off to return for the season opener. Then he broke his thumb making a routine catch in Week 2. It was mentally exhausting for the Texas native.
“Both of my injuries were like one in a million,” Reagor said. “If you want to get back, the way you prepare and the way you do things, it don’t rain forever. It was mental and if you’re going to let one of those things define you, then you in it for the wrong reason. That’s part of the game you can’t control.”
Jalen Reagor stats v the receivers drafted after him:
Reagor: 27 ctch, 351 yds, 1 TD, 13 ypc
Jefferson: 79 ctch, 1,267 yds, 7 TD, 16 ypc
Aiyuk: 60 ctch, 809 yds, 5 TDs, 12.5 ypc
Higgins: 61 ctch, 809 yds, 5 TDs, 13.3 ypc
Claypool: 53 ctch, 718 yds, 8 TDs, 13.5 ypc
— I’m just riffin baby (@GoBirdsGoSixers) December 28, 2020
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Looking Yourself in the Mirror
Injuries and setbacks may have sabotaged Reagor’s rookie campaign, but he still has 30 receptions for 381 yards with one game left. He scored his first touchdown in Week 8 on a two-yard strike from Carson Wentz, plus took a punt return to the house in Week 13.
So there’s plenty to build on looking ahead to 2021. Reagor was starting to develop good chemistry with new quarterback Jalen Hurts, too. The 21-year-old burner has 10 catches for 125 yards over the last three weeks. But looking back at it — and ignoring the fact he missed five games — Reagor’s first year wasn’t good enough.
“It wasn’t enough,” Reagor said. “It wasn’t enough for the team. It wasn’t enough personally so, you know, you just got to keep improving, sometimes you have to look yourself in the mirror and you see where you can improve and that’s all you can do is incline and that’s what I look to do.”
📺: NBC pic.twitter.com/NUlCCeY2Oe
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) November 2, 2020
Lack of Preseason Hurt Reagor’s Growth
Doug Pederson has constantly used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for his underachieving team. The lack of a true training camp and preseason limited how much the rookies could develop. They didn’t have time or reps to fully grasp his offensive system.
It sounds plausible, until you realize that all 32 NFL teams were in the same predicament. But maybe the Eagles head coach has a point when talking about Reagor. The team’s top draft pick was a at a disadvantage from the beginning due to those two heart-breaking injuries, then he had to endure a quarterback switch.
“We had a few new faces going into camp that were starters for us that just didn’t have time on task,” Pederson told reporters on Wednesday. “When you think about a Jalen Reagor for instance on offense, who didn’t have an off-season and really, we’re throwing him in there and he’s trying to learn on the fly, and it makes it a little more difficult for a guy like that.”
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