Fans have spent months following the 2020 season talking about wide receivers that could be available at the Eagles draft spot. While I believe a WR with elite potential is still a need for this team, I don’t know if the Eagles address that at 12 overall.
No disrespect towards him but Craig James is listed as a starting CB on the depth chart right now. It’s not a hot take to say that the wide receiver depth chart is in better condition than the cornerback position right now. It should also be considered that the Eagles hired Nick Sirianni, who is a former wide receivers coach himself. Sirianni brought in a passing game coordinator, Kevin Patullo, who also has experience in coaching wide receivers.
I wouldn’t blame the Eagles if they wanted a cornerback in the first round and waited until day 2 to address the wide receiver position. Howie Roseman might be thinking of trusting his coaching staff to develop the current wide receivers while also addressing the position in rounds two or three.
One of the current wide receivers that could see a sophomore surge under Nick Sirianni and company is Jalen Reagor, the team’s first round pick in the 2020 draft. It’s no reach to say that Reagor had a disappointing rookie season, considering where he was selected in the draft (21st overall). However, that disappointment was amplified due to Justin Jefferson, who was drafted after Reagor, having a historic rookie season. Reagor can’t control who the Eagles select though and a lot of misplaced anger has been directed at the young receiver. The former first round pick seems to be responding to the criticism and looks to be using this offseason to ready himself to answer the call come the 2021-22 NFL campaign.
After watching Nick Sirianni break down film of the Colts offense on the Eagles YouTube Channel, I couldn’t help but notice a couple plays where Reagor could excel.
For most of the Doug Pederson era after 2017, every time Eagles fans heard the words: wide receiver screen, there was a collective groan that could be heard for miles. The screens consisted of poor execution, the wrong player getting the screen called for him, or a combination of both. Hopefully Eagles fans will never again have to watch Greg Ward or Alshon Jeffery struggle through a poorly executed screen for little to no gain.
Sirianni really stressed the importance of blocking the opposing defender on those screen plays. If one player misses their assignment, it could blow the whole play up. The level of offensive acumen Sirianni speaks with seems to be something that lacked in the Doug Pederson era. However, this is only him speaking in the film room on the Eagles YouTube channel, and it has to translate onto the field before fans can get their hopes up. Although, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t encouraged by hearing Sirianni speak so far.
Sirianni’s offense is predicated on getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers and letting them work, which bodes well for a receiver like Jalen Reagor who excels in space. On the play above, we see Colts WR Parris Campbell working from the slot and running a deep drag. The play design from Sirianni, where he has the outside wide receiver running a go route or skinny post (route cuts off at the top of the screen), creates space for Campbell to work. We’ve heard whispers, from the likes of Adam Caplan, that Reagor could get more looks out of the slot this year. I could see a play like this really benefiting Reagor out of the slot and leading to a prime yards after catch opportunity.
If I were Reagor, I’d be watching plays from the Colts tape and sighing in relief at the space their wide receivers are given. He seemed to struggle last year with winning one on one match-ups on the outside, which makes sense because he’s just not that kind of receiver yet. However, in Sirianni’s offense, the system will do some of the work for him and present him with better opportunities to make plays. There were very few plays in his rookie season where Reagor had the kind of space Campbell had in the clip above. I’m sure Sirianni will be eager to get Jalen some looks with in-breaking routes, where he can show off his speed and playmaking ability.