With the 2020 NFL Draft gradually approaching, Acme Packing Company continues on with our look at potential draft prospects for the Green Bay Packers. With discussion building around the possibility that the Packers draft a wide receiver in the first round this April, we continue on with another candidate for their top pick at #30 overall.
Jalen Reagor, TCU
Weight: 196 pounds
Let’s get this out of the way first: Reagor is fast. Very, very fast. He also has incredible short area quickness, able to cut on a dime and stop/start in the blink of an eye. The only athletic deficiency I can spot in Reagor’s game is that it takes him a couple of steps to really accelerate from a cold start. I think this has to do with him not loading tension into his muscles in his stance, which necessitates that he loads that tension after the snap and slows his initial acceleration.
When Reagor is in motion he can stop and accelerate back to speed in a blink, such as on routes such as hitch and goes (he burned a couple of corners on those routes for long gains on film). Stopping and restarting forces your body to load tension and when Reagor has that tension he quickly translates it back into force/acceleration (muscle elasticity). If works with a good coach, he should be able to get a better start out of his stance and do the same thing out of his stance.
As far as his route running is concerned, Reagor is a little bit up and down. He tends to round off his cuts and doesn’t drop his hips, thus he tends not accelerate out of them as fast as he should. Clearly he has the athletic capability to be better out of his breaks, but I think he doesn’t because he hasn’t been forced to. Perhaps NFL coaching and the smaller margins of error in the NFL with catalyze improvement in that regard. Reagor has an okay release off press, but he relies on using footwork to shake the defender and doesn’t really make use of his hands to swipe or to punch the corner to escape. Reagor does have a knack for finding holes in zones and creating windows for his quarterback downfield. There are some receivers better at it than him, but it’s definitely a plus for him.
Obviously, Reagor excels on deep posts, hitch and go, and fly routes due to his speed. Reagor is also exceptional when he’s given the ball with space such as smoke routes, quick outs, and quick slants. Reagor’s ability to cut quickly and stop/start makes him a pain for defenders to get a bead on him and he’ll usually eke out several more yards than an average receiver would.
Reagor catches away from his body, watches the ball in, and catches it softly. I didn’t see any drops on film. On throws that require it, Reagor is able to leap and high point the ball very well. Reagor does okay catching the ball in traffic, but he can sometimes get out-muscled for the ball during contested catches. Reagor also doesn’t seem to have any problems tracking balls over his shoulders on deep routes. After the catch, Reagor uses his short-area agility well and his able to shake defenders and avoid tackles with ease.
Reagor is a willing blocker and seems eager to be physical, but his technique is sloppy and the results aren’t always there. Reagor did lower his hips and drive low through the block to get leverage in a few instances, but he generally came in high. He also threw his hands low and outside more often than not and didn’t get inside into the chest where he would have some control of the defender. He also didn’t drive his legs well through contact. Reagor threw some well timed blocks in space that helped spring longer gains, but unless his technique improves and he builds some more functional strength I don’t think it’ll really be a positive for him at an NFL level.
Reagor was used on several end-arounds and reverses to good effect, but I didn’t see any instances where he was put into the backfield. I imagine he could be used out of the backfield on plays that allow him to operate in space, but I have no evidence to back that up. Jalen Reagor was used extensively as a punt returner, and his quick area agility and ability to rapidly stop, start, and change direction allowed him operate well in a phone booth environment and avoid/shed tackles to break long returns. Reagor averaged over 20 yards a return and broke a couple of touchdowns last year. As impressive as Tyler Ervin was in the punt return role last year, Reagor would probably represent an improvement.
Reagor is an exceptional (and I might be understating it a bit) athlete with top of the class speed and agility. He has a bit of a hitch in his acceleration from a dead stop and is only an average route runner but has pretty clear path to improve upon both deficiencies. Reagor wouldn’t give the Packers much as a blocker, but he could certainly help improve the return game.
I expect that Reagor will start his career as an above average receiver his rookie year and I think that he has the potential to be an All-Pro if he hones his route running. Reagor doesn’t quite fit what the Packers have traditionally sought in a receiver, and Shenault would likely be a better fit for them, but Reagor would provide traits no other receiver on the roster have and would perhaps open new dimensions for the offense. In the Twilight Zone episode where I’m the Packers GM, I’d put Reagor in the middle of the first round of a “standard draft,” just a hair in front of Shenault.