Throughout the history of the NFL Draft, there have been great classes of a particular position that fans like to follow regardless of the team these players end up playing with.
Remember quarterback Donovan McNabb’s 1999 draft class?
Five quarterbacks were taken in the first 12 picks, including the first three. This Fab Five included Tim Couch (Cleveland, No. 1), McNabb (Eagles, No. 2), Akili Smith (Cincinnati, No. 3), Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota, No. 11) and Cade McNown (Chicago, 12).
All showed tremendous promise coming into their rookie seasons, but only Eagles McNabb and Culpepper of Minnesota made Pro Bowls. Couch, the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns, is now widely considered a major draft bust.
The 2020 first round receiver class is populated with five college stars picked over 11-spot span starting at No. 12 with the Las Vegas Raiders taking Henry Ruggs out of Alabama. Next up at No. 15 was Denver Broncos pick Jerry Jeudy also from Alabama.
Then Jerry Jones got back at the Eagles for stealing tight end Dallas Goedart two years ago when, at No. 17, the Dallas Cowboys selected CeeDee Lamb Oklahoma. Then the Eagles at No. 21 took speedster Jalen Reagor out of TCU followed immediately by the Minnesota Vikings who snagged Justin Jefferson from LSU.
How many of these wide receivers will have an impact? Hard to say.
The Eagles say they got their man.
Shortly after Howie Roseman made the pick, he talked about his conversations with head coach Doug Pederson about what their offseason strategy was going to be.
“The coach and I after the season, right after it ended, talked about a desire to bring some youth onto the football team, add some speed,” Roseman said in a video conference. “Jalen does those things. Obviously, this is a very good receiver draft and there are a lot of different flavors. I felt at one point it was like going to Baskin & Robbins…or Dunkin Donuts I should say and picking out different kind of donut, Everyone has their favorite type, there was a lot of debate, a lot of discussion as there were a lot of good players at this position in this draft. Jalen really fit into something we were really looking for. He’s an explosive guy with his ability to contribute as a receiver and as a returner. He has the ability to be explosive with the ball in his hands. He was all things we were looking for in this draft.”
Roseman said he and the personnel staff considered moving up as the draft got underway, but felt there was going to be value at No. 21 and decided to stay put.
At his conference call with the Eagles media corps, Reagor confirmed the Eagles were interested in him from the beginning.
“I talked to the whole staff – me or my agent – every other week,: Reagor said. “Just communicated with those guys, Coach A-Mo [Eagles WRs Coach Aaron Moorehead), Mr. Roseman, Coach Pederson, and just talking to those guys and catching up. They stay consistent. No matter what the circumstances were, they stayed consistent. I know it's a difference between doing your due diligence and showing real love and when you really want somebody. I can tell the difference for sure.”
Pederson was having trouble hearing questions during the video conference after Reagor was picked. It took three times, but the head coach was asked to evaluate his new receiver. Pederson said he needs to be up close and personal with Reagor before he could speak about his status with the team.
Right now, the Eagles are not allowed to be doing any kind of business at NovaCare. The action, by league commissioner Roger Goodell is in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
“This is a player we looked at in this draft and like Howie mentioned, there are a lot of really good receivers in this draft and some were gone before Jalen,” Pederson said. “But this guy’s going to come in, but before we talk about assignments and roles, he’s gotta come in and learn the system. We’re in a strange time right now, not having an off season and not really getting into the playbook until possibly training camp. That could be the first time we get our hands on these players. We’re just excited about the player and getting him in the building when we can. We’re going to have an opportunity this spring and see where he fits into the offense and special teams.”
Pederson did give a little rundown on what skills he sees in Reagor.
“Obviously No. 1 the speed,” Pederson said. “He can definitely stretch the field. His vertical for a 5-10, 5-11 guy, he can elevate and get balls above the rim. He has the flexibility of not only playing outside but also playing on the inside. He has the versatility of being the punt returner and possible return guy. This guy will have multiple roles coming out of college and we’re going to see where he best fits us, hopefully by training camp.”
Jalen’s father, Montae Reagor, was a nine-year NFL veteran who played one season in Philadelphia (2007). Montae was a member of the 2006 Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl XLI-winning team. Jalen was asked if his father talked to him about being an Eagle.
“It’s a family environment,” Jalen aid. “They love football. They love their Eagles. It's just a sigh of relief, man, like all this hard work you put in for this moment. My whole life I’ve told my people, my family, I'm going to be a first rounder someday. It's just crazy. I'm so blessed to have it come true, and then what greater organization to go to [than the] Philadelphia Eagles. So, I'm very excited and ready to go.” *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii