PATIENCE IS THE KEY WORD TO EVALUATING THE JALENS
I have worked with Daniel Jeremiah since his first day on the job at NFL NETWORK. Ironically, his first day was at Lehigh covering the Eagles training camp under Andy Reid.
He was a former scout with the Eagles, and on that first day, GM, Howie Roseman, teased him by saying that he could return to his scouting position with the Birds if his TV gig didn't work out.
I would say its gone on very well since that first day. On draft weekend this year, April 23-25, this year's draft saw the most viewed draft in NFL history and DJ was front and center for all 255 selections.
He was the star with his descriptive analysis and quips throughout the three days.
Prior to the draft, a process that DJ works on 365 days a year, he came out with his top 150 prospects in descending order, starting with Ohio State DE, Chase Young. Coming in at No. 56 was Eagles first pick. Jalen Reagor. Coming in at No. 50 was Jalen Hurts.
Throughout the draft process DJ and myself were in constant contact. Talking players, ranking positions, and talking "ball."
So when the Eagles selected Jalen Reagor with the No. 21 pick I was pretty surprised. The 14th ranked player on DJ's board of top prospects sat LSU's Justin Jefferson. He was coming off a national championship where he caught 111/18 TD;s. He played almost exclusively from the slot position in Joe Brady's system but was far from a slot wide receiver.
The prior he played on the outside and was effective in a conservative offense. When Brady came from New Orleans he saw Joe Burrow's talent and opened up the offense to get five receivers out on nearly every play. All the receivers "ate"
In comparison, Jefferson was bigger and faster than Reagor. With the No. 22 pick, one after the Eagles, the Vikings selected Jefferson, the fifth receiver taken in the first 22 selections.
I have been calling BIG 12 games for FOX since 2011. Going into the season I thought the two best receivers in the Big 12 were Ceedee Lamb and Reagor.
I said so on numerous occasions. Reagor was coming off a sophomore campaign that saw him catch 1061 yards of passes with nine TD'S while running for two more and a threat in the return game.
Lamb had just caught passes from back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners in Baker Mayfield that saw him rack up 18 TD passes in his first 27 starts.
What would happen with Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts?
Reagor caught only 43 passes for 611 yards/5TD's mostly from a freshman QB named Max Duggan while Lamb exploded catching 62 passes for 1327 yards/14 TD'S while averaging over 21 yards per catch. They were no longer equal.
But what troubled me about Reagor were his drops. In his first game against Arkansas Pine-Bluff I saw him muff a punt and drop at least two passes. I left Frog Country that night worried that I had over rated Reagor. The drops would continue and so did the lack of production.
So when DJ had Reagor as his 10th best wide receiver, and 56th best all around player I saw much of what he saw. So what did the Eagles see that we missed?
In 2008, Howie Roseman had climbed up the ladder to the VP of Player Personnel.
In that draft, Andy Reid wanted to select DeSean Jackson with his first pick. Andy even said so to me after the draft. Andy was overruled. So with the No. 49 pick in the second round the Birds took D-Jack. He was by far the best wide receiver in his draft class, yet was only the seventh receiver taken that year; none in the first round.
After 13 years, Jackson is the only receiver remaining in the NFL from that class. Along the way only the legendary Jerry Rice has scored more TD's of 50-plus yards than Jackson. While Rice left the game and walked into the Halls of Canton with 36, Jackson added numbers 30 and 31 in game one against the Redskins last season before and abdominal injury put him on the IR.
I can't help but think that Reagor is Howie's next Jackson. Jackson came out of Cal-Berkely at 5-foot-10 ,175 pounds and running a sub 4.4 in the 40 yard dash. I don't believe any of the numbers have changed for DeSean since his combine test in 2008.
Reagor is 5-11, 205 and runs in the 4.4's. He probably is more like 195 and at that weight runs a sub 4.4. Fairly comparable.
Sometimes a GM that has been at the personnel game as long as Howie has been sees another great player in his comparison. No argument, discussion, or numbers comparison can change the vision that Howie or someone similar may have. I have seen it to often. Andy Reid saw Favre when he watched Mahomes.
Tennessee saw Eddie George when they drafted Derrick Henry. Sometimes their are comps that only a visionary can make.
I think the plan is for Reagor to learn DJack's position this season. Maybe not even start the season. And gradually learn from Jackson, gain trust in Carson. Find ways to get him the ball in the run game like the 49ers did with Deebo Samuel while also be in a position to help in the return game b/c he is very talented at that part of the game.
Back on March 25 I said in this very magazine that the Birds should consider parting ways with their No. 53 pick in the second round on QB Jalen Hurts.
Since Carson has played a grand total of 9 plays in six post season games over the past three years, maybe it was time to invest in a quality backup quarterback.
When I wrote the article, I had no idea that AJ Espenesa nor JK Dobbins could possibly still be on the board. The Birds passed on both to grab Hurts.
In 2016 CompassMedia Radio had a hole in their national NFL schedule and asked if I could swing from doing an NFL game to calling the No. 1 college game in the country that weekend. Texas A&M v Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
I was pumped up. BOTH teams were 7-0 and ranked in the top 5. Bama was lead by freshman QB, Jalen Hurts out of Channelview, TX just outside of Houston. The Aggies were lead by Myles Garrett. Bama was too good on defense that day and dominated the second half to stay undefeated.
I left the frenzied stadium that day talking about Hurts. He ran for nearly 100 yards and seemed to be as fast as needed to be in every situation. I liked him from then on.
When evaluating QB's in this draft class it was easy to witness Burrow's talent. Tua, if not for the injuries, might have been the No. 2 selection in the draft with a big arm, great accuracy, leadership off the charts and advanced footwork. When the discussion for the third best QB in this class came up I kept going to that day in 2016 against A&M.
His resurrection this season where he was amazing as the Sooner QB in his only season reminded me over Russell Wilson's lone season at Wisconsin where he lead the Badgers to the Rose Bowl and an MVP Award.
He is far from a finished product, but with elite athleticism, and good size and strength, I thought within two years he will have a chance to be a front line starter. I thought he could make every QB room better, more competitive, and practices better with his modern day skill set.
The best scenario is that Hurts can enjoy a redshirt season, while running the scout team, getting 90 minutes of work gameday before the game begins, and getting lots of individual work after practice on Fridays.
I don't see many scenarios with what Sean Peyton does with Tysom Hill in New Orleans. I don't see special teams as a way to get Hurts on the field.
An occasional gadget play might be up Coach DougP's sleeve and maybe some "mop up duty" but I think Hurts should be developed as a QB.
Every draft by every team is often defined, good or bad, by only a few selections. No draft should ever be fully analyzed until three years go by, However, the good drafts, usually get immediate results and you can tell if the players belong right away. For the Birds 2020 draft the story is the story of the two Jalen's.
I hope they can impact immediately, although they may not be asked to do so right away. Like a lot of things in our world today, patience with the two Jalen's is only fair.
I am willing to let their talent develop and for some moments in big games to show the #FlyEaglesFly community that the two Jalen's were worth the gamble. *