Eagles

Eagles

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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