Eagles

Jalen Reagor already learning multiple receiver positions in Eagles offense

Jalen Reagor already learning multiple receiver positions in Eagles offense

Last month, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that first-round pick Jalen Reagor was “gonna come in and learn one position.”

Maybe there’s been a change of plans. 

Because as Eagles training camp kicks off, the No. 21 pick said on Tuesday that he’s been learning multiple receiver positions in the Eagles’ offense. 

They’ve just been emphasizing to me to learn X and Z and just to learn,” Reagor said. “Like I said, I pride myself on being adaptable to every situation. I feel like if I know the whole playbook rather than just X or Z, then it’ll make it easier to move me around. They’re emphasizing just to learn and take in everything.

Perhaps this was a part of the plan. Pederson said last month that once they saw Reagor’s growth they might decide to play him at other positions. Turns out they made that decision early. 

When Pederson said they were going to teach Reagor one position first, he also said Reagor was going to learn behind DeSean Jackson, intimating that Reagor would be learning the Z position in the Eagles’ offense. But Reagor says he’s learning the Z (where DeSean plays) and the X (where Alshon Jeffery plays). And Reagor also has the ability to play in the slot. 

Once actual practices start, we’ll find out if Reagor actually lines up at different spots. 

But for now, this is an important development that could ensure that Reagor gets on the field earlier in his rookie season. Because on the same day Reagor said he’s learning both, Jeffery was placed on the Active/PUP list and Marquise Goodwin opted out of the season. 

If Jeffery isn’t ready for the season opener on Sept. 13, it’ll probably be either Reagor or second-year receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside starting at the X position. After JJAW’s disappointing rookie season, fans will be eager to see the rookie. 

And even though Jackson is expected to be healthy after core muscle surgery last year, he hasn’t played a full season since 2013. And on Tuesday the Eagles also lost their DeSean insurance policy when Goodwin decided to opt out of the 2020 season. 

All that could mean that Reagor might be the backup at two positions in the offense and will play significant time as a rookie. 

This seems like a tough year to rely on rookies after all OTAs were moved to a virtual setting, but Pederson said he thought some of his rookies were in a really good place mentally. Now, they just have to carry that over to practice. 

“I feel like I learned a lot (in virtual OTAs),” Reagor said. “I pride myself on being very easily adaptable to certain things.” 

The Eagles’ rookies reported to training camp last week and the rest of the team followed this week to get COVID-19 tests. It’s going to be an unusual training camp to follow an unusual offseason. Padded practices won’t even start until Aug. 17. 

But Reagor will approach this season with the advice of DeSean on his mind. 

“He just told me to go in with a mission on my mind, go in with a chip on my shoulder and know I can make a big contribution,” Reagor said. “It’s the reason why this organization drafted me. They believed in me.”

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Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert gets a very bold 2020 prediction from PFF

Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert gets a very bold 2020 prediction from PFF

Pro Football Focus released its ranking of the 15 best tight ends in the NFL on Wednesday, and somehow the decision to place Rob Gronkowski at No. 3 is only the second-boldest move on the list.

The boldest? Placing Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert at No. 6 in the league - and ahead of Zach Ertz.

Wait, what?

Eagles fans know the Birds probably have the league's best tight end duo, and 2020 should be a big year for Goedert. But placing the third-year tight end in front of Ertz, a perennial Pro Bowler coming off the second-best season of his career? Hmm.

Let's go to the list for some explanation:

6. DALLAS GOEDERT

The best tight end on the Eagles’ roster heading into 2020 is not Zach Ertz. Despite the receiving totals pointing pretty clearly to Ertz being the better player in Philadelphia, it’s actually Goedert who graded out as the better receiver in 2019. Goedert’s size and athleticism make him dangerous in one-on-one situations, evident in his receiving grade against single coverage that ranked near the top of the list this past season.

[...]

He just needs more opportunities in a featured role, because the talent is there.

7. ZACH ERTZ

Many would rank Ertz as high as third on this list, so I’ll start this out by explaining a little bit why he comes in at just seventh. Primarily, he isn’t nearly as dynamic as some of these other guys with the ball in his hands.

Sandwiched between Antonio Gates (36 years old at the start of this stretch) and Jason Witten (34 years old) is not where you want to be as one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL in your prime.

It's hard to say these evaluations are far off. I'd venture to guess most Eagles fans, and most football observers, expect Goedert to overtake Ertz as the team's TE1 at some point in the next few years. Goedert is more athletic than Ertz, he's already a well-rounded player, and Ertz isn't getting any younger.

And the criticisms of Ertz - his relative lack of game-breaking athleticism compared to a George Kittle or Travis Kelce, and his constant inability to break tackles - hold true, as they have for years.

But predicting Goedert moving ahead of Ertz this year? That's gutsy! 

I think a lot of folks missed Goedert's sneakily productive season in 2019 - 58 catches, 607 yards, and five touchdowns - and we'll likely see Goedert play even more in 2020. His targets (87) didn't match Ertz's receptions (88) last year, so this might feel like a reach for a one-year change. But the role switch for TE1 and TE2 also might be closer than we think.

And if Goedert does take a big leap in 2020, that might make Howie Roseman think twice about extending Zach Ertz. The veteran tight end, possibly the best in franchise history, said this week he wants to remain an Eagle forever

If Goedert overtakes Ertz in productivity this year, as PFF thinks will happen, Ertz might have to take a discount to stick around in midnight green when his contract is up after the 2021 season.

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Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

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Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Barrett Brooks react to the addition of Vinny Curry and what it means for the entire defensive end position. 

What about guys like Shareef Miller, Genard Avery and Joe Ostman? 

Jatavis Brown abruptly retired this weekend, which leaves the Eagles really light at the linebacker positions. The guys take a closer look. Jason Kelce and Jason Peters are forming a really interesting duo on the Eagles’ line. 

And Nate Gerry and Lane Johnson are off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. 

  • (2:06) — What the return of Vinny Curry means for Shareef Miller.
  • (16:01) — Jatavis Brown abruptly retires.
  • (25:53) — Eagles lack talented players under 25-years-old.
  • (33:16) — Jason Kelce is learning from Jason Peters.

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More on the Eagles