Eagles

How Jalen Reagor shed weight and shocked everyone at his individual pro day

How Jalen Reagor shed weight and shocked everyone at his individual pro day

Jalen Reagor’s combine performance was shocking for all the wrong reasons. 

The Eagles expected Henry Ruggs III and Reagor to be the two fastest receivers this year in Indianapolis. While Ruggs held up his end by running a 4.27, Reagor didn’t even come close. 

“I was surprised he ran a 4.47,” Howie Roseman said on WIP earlier this month. “I really was.”

The very next day, Reagor showed up at Plex in Houston ready to work. 

In the six weeks that followed, Reagor shed the extra weight he brought with him to the combine, got faster and quicker before putting on another shocking performance at his individual pro day on April 8. This time, he shocked for all the right reasons. 

To be clear, the Eagles didn’t draft Reagor at No. 21 because of a virtual pro day. They took Reagor in the first round after following him for over a year, watching tape and getting to know him as a player and as a person. 

But seeing him run a 4.28 certainly didn’t hurt. 

What went wrong 

Reagor was listed at 195 pounds on his bio at TCU but he showed up to the combine at 206. 

Danny Arnold, the owner of Plex in Houston, called that an obvious mistake. The Eagles thought so too, according to league sources. 

“He was with someone (in training) that told him you should be stronger and thicker and that’s a huge mistake,” Arnold said. “You don’t adjust people’s weights at the most important time of their life. If you have an entire offseason, you can do that. But you don’t do that at the most critical time. So he went over there overweight.”

There are plenty of reasons why athletes don’t perform to their ability at the combine. It’s a hectic few days filled with interviews, stress and less than optimal conditions. This year, you could even add the fact that testing was done at night. But for Reagor, it seemed pretty clear his added weight affected his performance. 

During his media interview at the combine — before he tested — Reagor seemed happy about what he called a “steady” weight and thought he’d be able to play at around 205, 206. 

“I can still be explosive, still fast, still separate,” Reagor said. 

That wasn’t the case. Not only did Reagor have a disappointing 40 time, his times in the 3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle were awful. He ranked in the 5th and 8th percentile, respectively, among receivers. 

Shedding the weight 

Upon his arrival in Houston, his first goal was to lose that extra weight.  

By the time he performed in his virtual pro day in April, over a month later, Reagor was back down to 197 pounds. Nine pounds might not seem like a lot, but for Reagor it made a big difference. 

“We saw those changes real fast and it wasn’t that hard, honestly,” Arnold said. “We didn’t put him on some super strict diet. We put all of our athletes in a very well prepared nutritional plan but it wasn’t something drastic that he had to come in here and do extra cardio, things like that. Our workouts are pretty tough as it is. It was easy to get the weight back to what it was supposed to be.”

The good news for Reagor is that both of his jumps at the combine were very good. His vertical of 42 inches was in the 97th percentile and his broad jump of 138 inches was in the 98th percentile. 

Reagor was a high school track star and that shows. 

“The guy is so freaking explosive,” Arnold said. “I’ve been doing this for 17, 18 years and I’ve had some pretty good athletes come through here. I gotta tell you, as far as explosiveness, he’s right there with the best of them.”

The explosion was there; he just needed to prove he had the speed and quickness he showed on the field at TCU. 

“I was heavy at the combine,” Reagor said after the Eagles drafted him. “I picked up weight, I dropped weight and I ran 4.2. So all I have to say, man, like coaches tell me, like tape doesn't lie. So I mean, whether it's a 4.47, 4.28, whatever it was, I'm ready to play fast. I'm ready to make plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.”

The day of the workout 

Like many pro days throughout the country, TCU’s pro day, originally scheduled for March 27, was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So Reagor and his Houston-based agent turned to Houston-based Plex and Arnold, who has trained many high-profile NFL players over the last two decades. 

In the lead up to Reagor’s pro day, Arnold scheduled it a few different times, trying to get as many scouts in attendance as he could. Eventually, the date was set for April 8. 

On that morning, Arnold and his crew set up on one of their fields and spent about 35-45 minutes positioning camera equipment to capture every angle of the workout. From there, they let Reagor warm up for 45 minutes as former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake threw him passes. 

Then it was time for the tests. Arnold said he ran that day like he has many other pro days. 

Reagor ran the 20-yard shuttle first, then the 3-cone, then the 40 and then he did some route work. The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes and the video was sent out to NFL teams shortly after, while ESPN’s Adam Schefter also shared it with his 7.8 million Twitter followers. 

The numbers from the pro day were incredible, especially compared to what Reagor did at the combine a little more than a month earlier. 

Combine: 
40: 4.47 
Short shuttle: 4.46  
3-cone: 7.31

Pro day: 
40: 4.22, 4.28 
Short shuttle: 3.97, 4.04
3-cone: 6.72, 6.75

Are those numbers legit? 

There were plenty of eye-popping numbers coming out of individual pro days this year because of the cancelation of college pro days. With it came plenty of skepticism from the public about just how legitimate the numbers were. 

Arnold timed Reagor — along with longtime NFL scout Miller McCalmon — and stands by those recorded times. 

“I like Jalen, I love him, I hope I work with him for the rest of his career,” Arnold said, “but I’m not about to ruin the credibility of our company for him. … If I falsify numbers, it would hurt the credibility moving forward and I’m not about to do that.”

The good news for Reagor is that his speed in the pro day was more like what the Eagles saw on film. The GPS tracking numbers showed Reagor was much faster than a 4.47 player on the field. In fact, a report from CBS Sports said Reagor reached a speed of 20.80 mph in 2019, second to only Ruggs among the players in the study.

For the Eagles, the combine performance never really worried them as much as you might expect. They trusted what they saw on tape. The pro day simply backed that up. 

“We talk a lot about this RIFD data, and so you get the GPS numbers on these guys,” Roseman said on draft night. “So you can see how they're running in games and their speed in games. He's running at a really high level. He's been really fast in those games.

“Then obviously he did test super explosive when you look at the vertical and the broad and stuff like that. You see the explosiveness on tape, and then you had it in the testing.”

Willing to learn 

Even after Reagor’s impressive pro day, he stayed at Plex for a couple more weeks until the draft. He left quite an impression on Arnold, who was impressed by Reagor’s work ethic and desire to get better. 

Arnold said that while he was training Reagor, the 21-year-old was constantly asking for tips and ways to improve, even when he was doing the right things. He was open to learning about plyometrics, bounding and other ways to make himself a more efficient runner. 

“He’s going to be one that gets to the field house early and he’s going to be one of the last ones to leave,” Arnold said. “He’s going to be right on point working with your quarterback every day. He is a machine. I’m sure he’s got a lot of God-given talent but he’s worked real hard for it.” 

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More on the Eagles

Have Eagles really done enough to fix wide receiver position?

Have Eagles really done enough to fix wide receiver position?

Conventional wisdom says the Eagles upgraded the wide receiver position this offseason.

Not like they had any choice.

Their wide receiver production was the worst in modern Eagles history.

• So bad that for the first time since 1966 they didn’t have a wide receiver with 500 yards.

• So bad that they didn’t have any WRs ranked in the top 65 in the NFL in yards.

• So bad that they didn’t have a receiver all year record consecutive games with at least 65 yards. 

• So bad that the five receivers that suited up for the playoff game against the Seahawks had a combined 55 career receptions.

• So bad that Doug Pederson fired Carson Walch and hired Aaron Moorehead as the team's sixth WRs coach in six years.

It was time for a total rebuild, and that’s what Howie Roseman did.

But as we wait to see what form — if any — a 2020 NFL season takes, the reality is that there isn’t a single sure thing in the restructured Eagles wide receiver corps.

Every single guy is a big, giant question mark.

There are once-great veterans. Youngsters with potential. Long shots who could be keepers.

But there isn’t one guy who you can safely say, “OK, he’s going to catch 65 passes for 850 yards and seven touchdowns this year.”

Yet the Eagles rank sixth in projected 2020 wide receiver spending at $34.1 million, according to Spotrac.

The Eagles currently have 14 wide receivers on the roster. We broke them down into five categories.

Who will wind up making the team? Who will wind up starting? Who will wind up contributing? 

How good will they really be?

A lot of projecting so far. A lot of unknowns. And a lot of hoping.

One-time Pro Bowlers

DeSean Jackson is 33 years old and Alshon Jeffery is 30. Jeffery got significant snaps in only eight games last year and Jackson in just one, although it was an explosive one. Neither has made a Pro Bowl since 2013, both are coming off serious injuries and both are at an age where even healthy receivers begin declining.

Jackson is on the books with an $8.6 million cap figure this year and Jeffery a whopping $15.45 million. The Eagles need production at those numbers. But how much can they expect from Jackson and Jeffery?

Reclamation project

The Eagles gave up virtually nothing to take speedy Marquise Goodwin and his bloated contract off the 49ers’ hands. 

But what are they getting in Goodwin? A guy who has 35 catches the last two years, has averaged 332 yards in his seven NFL seasons and has caught 30 passes just once, in his excellent 2017 season.

Goodwin has a $4.28 million cap figure, so if he makes the team, he better produce. But what does he have left? And can the Eagles get enough of a sense of what they have in Goodwin in a curtailed offseason to make that $4.28 million commitment?

Young draft picks

The real key to this wide receiving corps isn’t Jackson, Jeffery or Goodwin. It’s the 23-year-old JJ Arcega-Whiteside and the 21-year-old Jalen Reagor, the Eagles’ second- and first-round draft picks the last two years.

Reagor was the 21st pick this year and you’d expect a sizeable contribution as a rookie. JJAW was terrible last year but you’d hope for a big jump in Year 2. The reality is Roseman has never drafted an elite wide receiver. Or even a better-than-average one.

Reagor and/or JJAW have to end that streak.

Practice squad posse

Greg Ward is the closest thing to a sure thing the Eagles have, and he’s played seven games in his career. He had nearly half the catches by Eagles WRs the last seven games of the season (28 of 59). But it's still a very small body of work.

Deontay Burnett had a big 41-yard catch against the Giants — the fourth-longest catch of the year by an Eagles WR — and Ward, Burnett, Robert Davis, Marcus Green and Shelton Gibson make it Eagles six 2019 practice squad receivers currently on the roster. Can any of them really be factors?

Rookie long shots

Rookie fifth-round pick John Hightower and sixth-rounder Quez Watkins are both late-round speeders. Manasseh Bailey had a fine career at Morgan State and Khalil Tate is trying to convert from quarterback to wide out, much like Ward did after playing QB at Houston.

Hightower probably has the best shot from this group to make the team and find his way onto the field, but at this point, without OTAs or preseason games, they’re all long shots.

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More on the Eagles

New York Jets WR calls Philly a 'dirty a**, trash a** city'

New York Jets WR calls Philly a 'dirty a**, trash a** city'

While the city of Philadelphia was celebrating the birth of a nation over the weekend, a New York Jets rookie wide receiver was trashing the city where our independence became official.

Denzel Mims must have had one really bad weekend in Philly once upon a time. You may recall Mims' curious comments about Philadelphia back prior to the draft in April:

I've been to Philadelphia one time, and it was last summer, before the season. I went with a couple teammates, and my head coach. We went up there, and we just spent a lot of time together. 

The experience I had, I was very scared. I wasn't familiar with the whole city, and it was a lot going on. You see a lot of people that look scary. I'm not a part of that, I don't like that. So I mean, I had a bad experience, you could say, going up there for the first time. But I feel like if I just go there more, and I just get familiar with it, I could have a great time.

And then over the weekend while streaming a video game online, Mims doubled down with even harsher words when asked about his dislike of Philadelphia, via USA Today.

I didn't like that dirty ass, trash ass city.

I mean, to be fair, there is a problem with litter on the streets here. But still, harsh words.

Too bad there probably won't be a preseason game with the Jets this year so some defender could lay a smackdown on him.